Federal prosecutors say they've made arrests in connection to anti-Semitic graffiti that was spray-painted at a Carmel synagogue last month.
U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said Thursday afternoon during a news conference in Indianapolis that Nolan Brewer, 20, of Cloverdale, was charged today in federal court with conspiracy to violate civil rights. An unnamed co-co-conspirator is also under arrest.
Nazi flags and iron crosses were spray-painted on two walls of a brick shed at Congregation Shaarey Tefilla in Carmel, just north of Indianapolis. The vandalism was found on July 28.
The FBI and Carmel Police discovered evidence linking Brewer and the co-conspirator to incident, including surveillance video showing them purchasing red and black spray paint and bandanas from a Greencastle Walmart the day before the crime.
Minkler said Brewer allegedly conspired to intimidate and interfere with the synagogue's use because its congregation is Jewish.
"His intention was not to be a prank," Minkler said. "His intention clearly was serious and that was to impact the people and their right to worship in the place they choose and in the way they choose and he was going to commit a specific crime to send that message."
Brewer remained in U.S. marshals' custody after appearing in court Thursday for an initial hearing. It was unclear if he has an attorney who could speak on his behalf. Brewer faces an Aug. 21 federal detention hearing.
According to court documents, Brewer allegedly made incriminating statements, telling investigators he targeted the synagogue because it was "full of ethnic Jews" and then mentioned Adolf Hitler. He also allegedly said that he and his co-conspirator wanted to send a message to the Jewish people to "back down or something like that."
Minkler said tips from the public led authorities to Brewer. The co-conspirator has also been arrested, but Minkler declined to comment, saying the investigation was ongoing.
"We hope the apprehension of these suspects sends a clear message that hate has no place in Carmel and that anyone who tries to desecrate property or send a hate message in our community will be found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Carmel Police Chief Jim Barlow said in written comments.
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard condemned the vandalism. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb cited the incident when he asked the Legislature to pass a hate crimes bill.
Indiana is one of only five states without a hate crimes law. Republican Senate leaders killed legislation this year that targeted crimes motivated by bias.
Holcomb says he hopes a hate crime bill passes in 2019.