IRVINE (CBSLA) – An Irvine synagogue has been defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti just days after the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Employees at Beth Jacob Synagogue at 3900 Michelson Drive spotted the vandalism about 9 a.m. this morning, according to Kim Mohr of the Irvine Police Department.
The vandal spray-painted “(Expletive) Jews” on the synagogue, said Rabbi Yisroel Ciner.
Irvine police “are fully engaged in trying to find the perpetrator and to ensure the safety of all groups,” Ciner said.
“Members of the Christian, Mormon and Muslim communities reached out to me after the horrific incident in Pittsburgh offering their support and solidarity,” Ciner told City News Service. “We are saddened that such hate exists everywhere and even in our backyard.”
“First of all it has broken my heart. That’s the first thing. I’m very, very emotional and upset about it,” said Basil Luck, the founding member of the synagogue. “I was shocked. Unbelievable. In disbelief.”
“It’s very upsetting. My family and I came to this country from the Soviet Union. We escaped this kind of behavior and this kind of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe and to find it here in Irvine is just unbelievable,” said Allen Berezovsky, Beth Jacob Congregation president.
Video shows the suspect, who jumped over the front fence, disguised in a hoodie, mask and sunglasses.
The police chief said his officers stepped up patrols after the mass murder in Pittsburgh last weekend but will now increase their presence even more.
“It’s always surprising. These are things we never want to see and they are disturbing to us,” said Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel.
Irvine is home to several Jewish places of worship. Why Beth Jacob synagogue was the one hit is being investigated.
Beth Jacob was in the news back in April when authorities discovered that Nicholas Rose of Irvine allegedly had a hit list of prominent local Jewish people. Rose, who is in jail, is accused of writing that Beth Jacob synagogue was one of his targets. This anti-Semitic activity like the hate crime today deeply concerns this congregation.
“I really truly believe that whoever has done it somehow they’ve got so much hatred in their heart. I don’t know how they deal with anything in their lives,” said Luck.
The video of the crime is dark. Police cannot tell whether the suspect is a man or a woman.
Anyone with information about the vandalism was asked to call investigators at (949) 724-7200.
The number of hate crimes in the region jumped last year, continuing a trend that began in 2015, according to the OC Human Relations annual report.
Last year, Muslims were the most targeted ethnic group at 13 percent, with Jews the second most targeted at 9 percent.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)