Colorado synagogue to add surveillance cameras after alleged bomb plot

Colorado synagogue to add surveillance cameras after alleged bomb plot

Security at second oldest synagogue in the state to be upgraded further after locked doors and armed guard added in wake of 2018 Pittsburgh attack

Signs, flowers and candles expressing love for the Jewish community stand outside the Temple Emanuel in Pueblo, Colorado, Nov. 5, 2019 (Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP)
Signs, flowers and candles expressing love for the Jewish community stand outside the Temple Emanuel in Pueblo, Colorado, Nov. 5, 2019 (Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP)

DENVER (AP) — The synagogue that was the target of an alleged bombing plot plans to add surveillance cameras to enhance security that was already tightened in response to the deadly Pittsburgh synagogue attack last year.

The cameras will help keep watch on activity outside the synagogue in Pueblo and will hopefully be something that can be monitored remotely by its members through their phones, Michael Atlas-Acuña, president of the board of directors of Temple Emanuel in Pueblo, said Tuesday.

“We’re not going to be threatened by this,” he said, referring to the alleged plot by Richard Holzer, 27. Holzer was arrested last week after the FBI said he accepted what turned out to be phony explosives from undercover agents he had been talking to about the plan.

Temple Emanuel, a Reform congregation of about 35 families, started locking its doors during services and paying an armed guard to stand watch since the deadly attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018.

Temple president Michael Atlas-Acuña walks past a memorial inside the historic Temple Emanuel in Pueblo, Colorado for the victims of the 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburg, Nov. 5, 2019 (Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP)

After that attack, some members who wanted to assure Atlas-Acuña revealed that they been carrying guns to the synagogue before and would continue to do so. There is a sign posted at the synagogue warning that it is not a gun-free zone.

Atlas-Acuña said he is not armed himself but is comforted that others would be prepared to react if someone fired on congregants.

Pueblo, which attracted immigrants from many countries to work in its steel mill and other industries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is a Democratic stronghold with a history of supporting gun rights.

Temple Emanuel, the second oldest synagogue in Colorado, was built in 1900 largely by descendants of immigrants from central and eastern Europe.

While the Jewish community is relatively small there, it has found strong support from the rest of the city, Atlas-Acuña said. It’s not uncommon for Christians to visit services to learn more about the roots of their faith, he said.

This photo provided by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office shows Richard Holzer, who was arrested, November 1, 2019, in Pueblo, Colorado. Holzer, who is accused of plotting to bomb a historic Colorado synagogue, appeared briefly in court on November 4. (El Paso County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Holzer has been charged with attempting to obstruct religious exercise by force using explosives and fire, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment. He was being held in a suburban Denver jail and is scheduled to appear in court Friday for a hearing to review the evidence against him and determine whether he should be released on bond.

The hearing was originally supposed to be held on Thursday. It was delayed at the request of the public defender, Mary Butterton, who has been appointed to represent him. The Office of the Federal Public Defender does not comment on its cases.

The synagogue also plans to hold its regular weekly service on Friday as planned and is inviting the public to attend.

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