Man arrested following antisemitic vandalism incidents at University of Florida religious centers, police say

A man was arrested Thursday after several antisemitic vandalism incidents at religious centers, including the Lubavitch Chabad Jewish Center at the University of Florida, according to the Gainesville Police Department.

Gainesville police said Detective Corporal Warren Meek has been investigating these incidents and found that the first incident happened on Nov. 23 when the University of Florida Hillel received a threatening voicemail.

According to police, the voicemail stated “If you do not value the lives of children then we do not value yours at all. At all.” The voicemail continued with other similar statements.

During Meek’s investigation, he discovered other religious centers received similar voicemail messages and emails on that same day.

Then, on the morning of Nov. 24, religious centers’ members discovered several items that had been vandalized. Phrases like “BURN IN HELL,” and “CHILD MURDERS” were written on a sign near the front of the buildings, police said. There were also similar phrases written on a banner near the front door.

Lastly, they found a drawing of a Star of David on the sidewalk, and beside it, there was an arrow pointing at it with the phrases “STAR OF MOLEC” AND “DAVID HAD NO STAR.”

RELATED | ‘No room for hate’: FBI reports increase in hate crimes, renews multi-agency campaign in Northeast Florida

Police said surveillance footage from that morning showed a person wearing a long, dark trench coat approaching the center on foot. The video also showed that person vandalizing the sign and banner near the front of the building and the sidewalk.

Detectives with the University of Florida Police Department helped the Gainesville Police Department gather information on the suspect, who appeared to be a man with light-colored hair that ran to the top of his shoulders.

Police said the phone number and email address used to leave messages to the religious centers revealed Geoffrey Lush, 50, as the owner.

Detectives went through Lush’s social media platforms and said they found posts that expressed similar beliefs to the messages and vandalism of the religious centers.

According to police, Lush described other random acts of vandalism he performed on Nov. 24.

Lush was taken into custody on Nov. 30 for written threats to kill or injure and criminal mischief in a place of worship. His bond is set to $150,000.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.