Miami Beach

Miami Beach police charge man with vandalizing synagogue

Miami Beach police arrested a man who they say scrawled hate group markings on a synagogue, less than 24 hours after the desecration.

Maximo de la Cruz-de Jesus, 43, was picked out of a lineup early Tuesday night by a witness, and was later arrested and charged with criminal mischief at a place of worship by Beach police.

Police said de la Cruz-de Jesus was picked up without incident, read his rights, then requested an attorney. In addition to the eyewitness, police also had footage from video surveillance to help them identify him. Police said they also matched his fingerprints to the crime scene.

De la Cruz-de Jesus is alleged to have used a marker or spray paint early Tuesday morning to scrawl hate symbols and several words on a banner out front of Temple Emanu-el, the oldest conservative Jewish congregation on Miami Beach. Painted on the banner was a swastika and the letters “KKK.”

The desecration was at least the fifth in Miami-Dade this summer. Last weekend, similar markings were found on the back wall of Publix supermarket in Surfside, and at a synagogue in West Miami.

Temple Emanu-el organizers and the Anti-Defamation League commended Miami Beach police for the quick apprehension of the suspected vandal.

“This incident demonstrates how proper security protocols and strong law enforcement relations can make a difference in solving crimes against the Jewish community,” said Hava Holzhauer, the ADL regional director for Florida.