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Jewish Journal

Hollywood synagogue arson suspect charged

by Jonah Lowenfeld

April 20, 2011 | 12:03 pm

Surveillance photo of the suspect.

Surveillance photo of the suspect.

A suspect in last week’s attempted arson at Temple Israel of Hollywood (TIOH) was charged on April 20 with 19 separate counts of arson and burglary in the Hollywood area by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), according to the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), the agency in charge of the case.

Police apprehended the suspect, Dmitriy Sheyko, 21, on Monday, April 18, in connection with a robbery at a Fresh and Easy supermarket in Hollywood. Once in custody, police matched his face with that of the suspect in the TIOH arson attempt, which was captured by the synagogue’s surveillance cameras.

Sheyko, who was questioned by LAFD investigators on April 20, is believed to be the same man who broke into TIOH early on April 14. His bail, initially set at $50,000, was raised today to $3 million.

If convicted, Sheyko could be sentenced to multiple years in prison for each count of arson. He would also have to register with local governments as a convicted arsonist for the rest of his life.

Police believe that the suspect broke into TIOH and started a small fire in a classroom on the second floor that caused only minimal damage. The flames had been extinguished by the time firefighters arrived at the scene.

Initial assessments by LAFD suggested that the incident was not a terrorist attack. LAPD officials told the Los Angeles Times that detectives did not believe it to have been a hate crime.

It was the second incident in a week to involve criminal activity related to a local synagogue. On April 7, a homemade bomb went off near the Chabad of Santa Monica. Ron Hirsch, 60, was arrested on April 11 in Ohio in connection with that explosion.

Although the students at TIOH’s day school were evacuated from the building on the morning of April 14, the arson attempt only interrupted the synagogue’s programming temporarily. The evening program for students and their families at TIOH took place as scheduled, a member of the synagogue’s staff said.

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