CARY, North Carolina — Police have accused a woman of vandalizing a North Carolina house of worship, charging her for ethnic intimidation and property damage, and saying her actions were “fueled by hate.”
Authorities said 57-year-old Lisa Marie Burns was arrested on Friday and was being held on a $2,000 bond.
The Messianic congregation Shaarei Shalom in Cary had been the target of threats before it was vandalized, police said.
A news release said officers responding to a call from a resident Thursday found orange spray paint on a man’s cars and a broken headlight on another. A subsequent call from the congregation found its windows broken and profanity spray-painted on the side of the building.
A board member told a local television channel that someone threw bricks through the windows. Video footage from a doorbell camera showed Burns throwing the object, police said, according the News & Observer, a newspaper based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Investigators determined Burns was a neighbor of the man whose cars were vandalized. They say that during questioning she expressed disdain for people of other religions and ethnic backgrounds.
In a press release, Cary police said Burns “admitted to both acts of vandalism and indicated her disdain for people of other religions and ethnic backgrounds.”
“While the vandalism Mrs. Burns committed did not immediately suggest a racial motive or ethnic intimidation, through our investigation it became clear that her actions were fueled by hate,” said police Capt. John Szymeczek in the statement cited by the News & Observer.
In November, the son of a North Carolina Court of Appeals judge made threats against the same congregation. William Warden, 20, also burned a cross in a local park, according to local reports.
On a Saturday night, Warden rang the smart doorbell of the congregation. When a temple official remotely answered the bell, Warden made a “number of disparaging statements against the Jewish religion and people of the Jewish faith,” police told the News & Observer. He also threatened to damage the building, according to the report.
Rabbi Seth Klayman, who heads the congregation, welcomed news of the arrest on Friday.
“Certainly, we are happy they were able to arrest the person who was responsible,” Klayman told the News & Observer. “I understand there is an ethnic intimidation dimension with the arrest. We’re saddened for the second time we’ve come face to face with anti-Semitism, but we’re going to continue spreading goodness.”
Messianic Judaism, commonly known as Jews for Jesus, combines Jewish traditions with the idea that Jesus Christ is the coming Messiah. Some Messianic Jews want the movement to be accepted as a sect of Judaism, but mainstream Jewish movements emphatically reject this, saying the ideology is a contradiction.