USA - Man accused of setting fire to Austin synagogue on Halloween arrested

Franklin Barrett Sechriest
A Texas man was arrested, accused of setting fire to an Austin synagogue on Halloweensetting fire to an Austin synagogue on Halloween, arson investigators with the Austin Fire Department (AFD) said Wednesday.

Franklin Barrett Sechriest, 18, has been accused of arson for allegedly igniting the front sanctuary doors of Congregation Beth Israel, which led to a "small exterior fire" that, AFD said, escalated to sweep across the front entrance of the building.

The synagogue was reportedly empty at the time, which was about 9 p.m., and nobody was injured, according to AFD.

The department later tweeted a picture of the charred synagogue after the fire, which arson investigators stated caused approximately $25,000 in damage.

Authorities said surveillance video outside of the congregation shows Sechriest driving up to the parking lot in a Jeep, carrying a "heavy green jug." Video then shows fires being started from four different angles as Sechriest leaves the scene, authorities said.

Additional surveillance footage allegedly shows Sechriest scouting the synagogue days before the arson. In the video, the same Jeep seen on the night of the fire can be seen driving up to the building, then driving off, authorities said.

The investigation is ongoing and also involves the FBI and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).