The Sarasota County, Fla. Sheriff’s Office has announced an arrest in several recent cases of vandalism at local Jewish temples. Vincent Martinez, 21, is the man seen on surveillance footage spray painting swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti, authorities say.
“The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office takes hate crimes such as these very seriously,” Colonel Kurt A. Hoffman said. “Our detectives worked tirelessly with help from the community to bring this case to a successful conclusion.”
The investigation started in the spring. On April 2, a suspect was caught on surveillance footage spray painting swastikas at Temple Emanu-El, deputies said. Officials had video but no immediate suspect. Months later, on the early morning on July 15, a man was seen vandalizing the same temple with anti-Semitic graffiti; he then went to the nearby Temple Sinai to commit more vandalism, officials said.
It was initially unclear if the April 2 suspect was the same as the person from July 15, but deputies described the suspect from both dates in pretty identical terms: white, in his 20s or 30, and standing between 5’10” and either 6’1″ or 6’2″.
Now authorities said they found their suspect, and they say there is confirmation he is responsible for everything.
Detectives say they received information identifying Martinez as a possible suspect. They discovered he used an ATM shortly after the April 2 incident. Martinez wore the same clothes in ATM surveillance footage as the suspect wore while committing acts of vandalism, they say. Cell phone records connected Martinez to the July 15 vandalism, deputies said.
Martinez is now charged with three counts of criminal mischief by defacing and damaging a synagogue. The charges are hate crimes. Sarasota County jail records do not show him in custody as of Friday afternoon.
“He is currently at a secure medical facility pending his arrest on warrants issued Wednesday,” deputies said in a statement dated Friday. It is unclear if he has an attorney in this matter.
[Image of the April 2 incident via Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office]
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