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New Jersey man charged with federal hate crimes for alleged antisemitic attack spree

Dion Marsh faces life in prison for stabbing and running over Orthodox Jews in Lakewood two weeks ago; told investigators Jewish people ‘are the real devils’

Luke Tress is an editor and a reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

Dion Marsh, the suspect in an alleged antisemitic crime spree in New Jersey, in a photo released by the Lakewood police on April 8, 2022. (Courtesy/Lakewood Township Police Department)
Dion Marsh, the suspect in an alleged antisemitic crime spree in New Jersey, in a photo released by the Lakewood police on April 8, 2022. (Courtesy/Lakewood Township Police Department)

The US Department of Justice filed federal hate crimes charges on Wednesday against a New Jersey man accused of attacking Jews in a violent crime spree earlier this month.

Dion Marsh, 27, was charged with four hate crimes for “a series of violent assaults on members of the Orthodox Jewish community,” the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey said in a statement.

Marsh was charged with willfully causing bodily injury to four victims, and attempting to kill three with dangerous weapons, “all because they were Jewish,” the statement said.

He was also charged with one count of carjacking.

The three hate crime charges that include an attempt to kill carry a maximum term of life in prison. The fourth hate crime violation, with a charge of assault, carries a maximum 10-year term, and the carjacking has a maximum 15-year term. All of the charges have a maximum $250,000 fine.

The attacks on April 8 critically injured two Jewish men, who survived, and seriously injured a third.

The rampage started at 1:18 p.m. in the town of Lakewood, when Marsh allegedly forced an identifiably Jewish man out of his car, assaulting and injuring him, and driving off in the vehicle.

At 6:06 p.m. on the same day, a Friday, Marsh rammed another Orthodox Jewish man while driving a different vehicle. He was attempting to kill the victim and broke several of his bones, prosecutors said.

At 6:55 p.m., driving the stolen vehicle, Marsh rammed another Orthodox Jewish man, then got out of the vehicle and stabbed the victim in the chest with a knife, prosecutors said.

At 8:23 p.m., during Shabbat, Marsh allegedly rammed another Orthodox Jewish man in the nearby Jackson Township, attempting to kill him and causing several broken bones and internal injuries.

Law enforcement arrested Marsh at his home that night at midnight.

Marsh is in custody on related state charges and does not have a scheduled court date. The state of New Jersey charged him with attempted murder, carjacking, weapons charges and bias intimidation.

The Anti-Defamation League said Marsh made antisemitic comments after his arrest.

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said, “The bias charges are based on statements he made to detectives after his arrest.”

NJ Advance Media, a local news site, said Marsh called Jews “the real devils” after his arrest, citing police documents.

Carla Hill, the associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said researchers from the center had pored over Marsh’s extensive online footprint to look for clues about the attack.

“We found not a single antisemitic post. We even listened to his music to see if he had any antisemitic lyrics and we didn’t find any,” Hill said.

Marsh had just gone through a break-up, which may have set him off, she said.

“We’ve seen that happen before in the extremist world, where somebody has some sort of personal crisis and then goes on a rampage, an ideological rampage,” she said.

Last year, hate crimes hit a record high in New Jersey, according to a report from the state’s acting attorney general released last week.

Anti-Black and antisemitic crimes were the most common incidents, in line with previous years.

There were 347 reported anti-Jewish crimes in 2021, representing 17% of all hate incidents, the report said.

Lakewood, with a large Orthodox Jewish population, is the fifth-largest city in New Jersey. The city in the southern part of the state is a destination for Orthodox Jews from New York City who are seeking a more affordable cost of living and is home to several massive yeshivas that attract students from around the world.

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