A man suspected of throwing a Molotov cocktail at the front door of a synagogue in northern New Jersey last weekend is now in custody.
Nicholas Malindretos, 26, of Clifton, is charged with attempted use of fire to damage and destroy a building. He was due to make his initial appearance Thursday in federal court in Newark, and it wasn’t known if he has an attorney.
Police responded at around 9:30 a.m. Sunday to a report of property damage at Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield. Surveillance video showed that a man had approached the synagogue hours earlier with a Molotov cocktail, which he lit and threw at the door. Police said the glass bottle broke but didn’t cause any damage to the temple, and the suspect fled down the driveway.
A license plate reading device located nearby captured a vehicle passing by shortly before and shortly after the incident, according to federal prosecutors. Authorities found the vehicle in nearby Clifton and saw several items consistent with the video of the incident plainly visible inside.
Authorities obtained a search warrant for the vehicle, which they said belongs to Malindretos. Video cameras in the area where it was parked captured footage of the vehicle parking and a man with the same physical characteristics as Malindretos getting out and entering a nearby building.
If convicted of the count he’s facing, Malindretos could face five to 20 years in federal prison.
The synagogue is part of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey.