Suspect in custody after Fresno business vandalized, synagogue also targeted

The incidents come after a surprise attack by Palestinian group Hamas on Israel, which has escalated into the Israel-Hamas war.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Jewish synagogue and business in Fresno vandalized, police investigating as hate incidents
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The Fresno Police Department is investigating two incidents in the city targeting the Jewish community.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A suspect is now in custody after a Fresno bakery and synagogue were vandalized on Tuesday morning.

The suspect was taken into custody in connection to vandalism at Noah's Ark Restaurant and Bakery, a family-owned business.

Around 8:30 am, an owner of Noah's Ark found their front glass doors shattered.

"It's very shocking," said Ani Baghramyan, co-owner of Noah's Ark.

Surveillance video shows the suspect walking up to the door and throwing a rock straight at the window.

Baghramyan says a note was left behind, reading, "All Jewish businesses will be targeted."

However, she says while there is a war raging in Israel right now, it has nothing to do with their business.

"Especially because we don't have anything to do with either of the countries, we are Armenian Christians, so we are not from Israel, we are not from Palestine, and have nothing to do with the conflict over there," said Baghramyan.

This isn't the first time their restaurant has been vandalized.

"This is the second incident that happens. We had a similar one back in May," said Baghramyan.

Surveillance video from the incident in May also shows someone leaving a note and throwing a rock at the window.

Officials have not yet released the suspect's name in Tuesday's incident but say he has no ties to militant groups in the Middle East.

Also, around 6 Tuesday morning at Temple Beth Israel, an employee found one of their glass doors broken.

A suspect is now in custody after a Fresno bakery and synagogue were vandalized on Tuesday morning.

The latest incident follows another vandalism that happened six years ago at the synagogue.

"There was a been a little in the past. Yeah, we know it's out there. For the most part, the Fresno community is awesome, but there are a few hateful people who decide to make it hard for everyone," said Rabbi Rick Winer with Temple Beth Israel.

In 2018, the letters spelling 'Israel' on their temple were removed after a unity meeting was held to remember those who died in the Pittsburgh synagogue attacks.

Rabbi Winer says he believes these are not ways people should express their differing opinions.

"There are productive ways to say we are not happy about a situation without demonizing people who have nothing to do with it," said Rabbi Winer. "But violent outbursts and terrorist activity and hateful vandalism is not helping anyone."

Fresno police say everyone is free to protest peacefully, but when things intensify, they will take action.

"It's when it's escalated to situations like this, where we have vandalism and crimes are being committed, that's not going to be tolerated. So we are putting our resources behind this investigation, and if we're able to, we're going to find the individuals who did it and hold them accountable," said Fresno Police Lt. Bill Dooley.

Despite the vandalism earlier in the day, Rabbi Winer hosted a pray for peace event Tuesday night at Temple Beth Israel.

The event was scheduled before the local acts of hate.

The congregation, along with Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer and councilmembers Mike Karbassi and Garry Bredefeld, gathered to pray for the people of Israel.

For many in the room, the war touches their own families.

"I have a son-in-law who has a father who lives in Israel. Has another family, two brothers and one sister. The older brother is back on active duty as a medic. His sister is back on active duty doing intelligence work," said Alan Birnbaum, admin vice president of Temple Beth Israel.

Investigators are still working to figure out if the suspect arrested for the Noah's Ark crime is also responsible for the vandalism at the synagogue.

In the meantime, Fresno police have been stepping up patrol presence around synagogues and Jewish businesses in the city as the conflict continues in the Middle East.

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