An elderly white man is facing charges of attempted arson and attempted murder after being accused of trying to burn down a condominium as a way to target his Jewish neighbors.
Investigators believe that Walter Stopler, 72, was motivated by his upcoming eviction as well as an apparent hatred toward his Jewish neighbors, WSVN notes.
An arrest affidavit notes that Stopler told police when he was caught that he had planned on burning down the building with “all the [expletive] Jews.”, adding that he wanted to “kill all Jews.”
Miami Beach Police received a tip about the alleged attempted arson and officers quickly identified Stopler as the suspect and arrested him on Thursday in the condominium’s parking garage. Stopler had two containers of gas with him at the time of his arrest and had already tossed several gas-filled containers down a trash chute in the building.
“We learned an additional eight containers of gasoline were dumped down the 15th-floor trash chute,” Miami Beach Police spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez told the news station. “We firmly believe we intercepted a potential crisis here in this building.”
Investigators added that the 72-year-old bought two electrical fans to fan the flames after he started the blaze, and had also bought padlocks to put on the firehoses to stop the fire department from putting out the planned blaze.
Luis Diaz, who has been friends with Stopler for 10 years, told the news station that he called the police after growing concerned over the older man’s anti-Semitic remarks.
“A comment that he made to me, it actually bothered me,” he added, “[Stopler said] that he was gonna burn the building down with a bunch of Jews in it.”
Police say that Stopler could be charged with a hate crime in the incident as well.