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March 14, 2022 12:46 pm
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Police in Connecticut Arrest Suspect in Arson of Local Synagogue and Church

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Downtown New Britain, Connecticut. Photo: Kenneth C. Zirkel/Wikimedia Commons

Police in New Britain, Connecticut have filed arson and burglary charges against a woman accused of igniting fires at a synagogue and a church, city officials confirmed on Saturday.

On Friday night, according to a local report, 30-year-old Kimorah Parker broke into Tephereth Israel Synagogue and lit a blaze that caused “fairly extensive” damage. Parker also set fire to St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, and set off a burglary alarm at a second church, St. Joseph’s.

Speaking to The Algemeiner on Monday, Tephereth Israel Synagogue congregation member Michele Joyce called the attack “devastating.”

“We don’t know why the person who started the fire did this,” she said. “We know she chose a church and a synagogue, so it wasn’t specifically Jewish; we don’t know a motive.”

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Joyce said she was a “lifetime member” of the congregation, and that her children, parents, and grandparents had all attended.

“It’s devastating, because that building holds a lot of memories for me and my family,” she said. “I’m hoping that building itself is still structurally sound and that they can repair it.”

In a Sunday post from the synagogue’s Facebook account, Joyce said that the women’s section in the balcony, a wall, and a stairwell appeared to have been damaged by the fire.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is assisting local law enforcement’s investigation, New Britain Mayor Eric Stewart announced on Saturday, sharing the bureau’s message on Facebook.

“Local police have arrested a suspect well-known to them and retain the lead over the ongoing investigations,” the FBI said. “No other incidents have been reported since the arrest. The FBI will continue to coordinate with local law enforcement and, pending further evidence collection, will determine whether federal charges are appropriate.”

The arson came during a period of heightened concern over security at synagogues around the country, which took on new life after a hostage-taking at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. On Thursday, Congress approved $250 million in funding to protect houses of worship.

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