UPDATE (Sept. 13, 2018)– Nolan Brewer was formally charged Thursday with conspiracy to violate civil rights. He is on home detention with court monitoring.
CARMEL, Ind. – Federal authorities say two arrests have been made after someone left anti-Semitic graffiti on a synagogue in Carmel last month.
Nolan Brewer, 20, of Cloverdale, faces a federal civil rights charge in connection with the case. A 17-year-old female co-conspirator was also arrested and is not being named at this time due to her status as a juvenile.
Brewer reportedly admitted to federal agents that he chose the synagogue because it was “full of ethnic Jews” and wanted to send a message to Jewish people to “back down or something like that.”
“He is charged with violating civil rights law namely conspiring to threaten intimidate and interfere with the use synagogue by its members because they are Jewish,” said U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler. “His intention was not to be a prank. 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.”
Investigators said the graffiti spray-painted on a garbage shed at Congregation Shaarey Tefilla, located in the 3000 block of West 116th St., included a swastika and other Nazi imagery. Investigators also found burn marks. The president of the congregation, Corey Freedman, believes the vandalism happened sometime between late Friday, July 27, and early Saturday, July 28.
Brewer was wearing a German military camouflage jacket with a German flag on the shoulder, investigators said. He also referred to Adolf Hitler during his arrest. Brewer faces 10 years in federal prison if convicted on the federal civil rights charge he faces.
Minkler said tips from the public led them to Brewer in Cloverdale. Surveillance footage from a Walmart store showed Brewer and the teen buying spray paint and other materials used to deface the synagogue.
Brewer’s cell phone revealed text messages with photos bragging about his activities, according to investigators.
“These guys did a cowardly thing in a cowardly way,” said Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow, who was gratified by the community support his congregation received after the attack. “It made this act a complete failure because they tried to evoke hatred and fear and what they produced was an outpouring of love and support and solidarity.”
A $5,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest in the case, which intensified calls from some lawmakers for hate crime legislation in Indiana.