On Dec. 14, Nessah Synagogue congregants arrived for Shabbat services to find their synagogue vandalized. Furniture had been flipped over, Jewish relics had been damaged and other property was destroyed.
For the predominantly Persian congregation, a community that escaped religious persecution in Iran and have monitored with no small amount of anxiety the increasing reports of anti-Semitism in the United States and abroad, the scene was deeply unsettling.
But then the police showed up.
Beverly Hills PD enjoys a tremendous amount of support from the community, in part, because the community feels protected and supported by the police.
“The police department definitely felt the pain of the attack on the Jewish Community,” said Detective Division Commander Lt. Max Subin. “The need and the want to catch the suspect was paramount.”
As soon as patrol arrived at the Rexford Drive synagogue, Beverly Hills PD flew into action. The forensics team, the Crime Impact Team and the Detective Bureau descended with one goal in mind.
“Everyone from patrol to the detective’s bureau was focused on identifying and arresting the individual,” Subin said. “Once we saw the damage and the desecration to the Jewish relics, we were shocked and realized that we had to catch the perpetrator. There was no stopping until he was arrested.”
Synagogue surveillance footage captured a man leaving the synagogue in the early morning hours of Dec. 14, wheeling a suitcase. Using fingerprints, DNA evidence, the synagogue’s surveillance footage and the city’s network of 1,300 closed caption cameras, the police identified a suspect, Anton Nathaniel Redding of Millersville, Penn. Police allege Redding headed to L.A. International Airport after the attack and boarded a plane for Kona, Hawaii.
Working with the Los Angeles Police Department, the United States Secret Service, the Joint Regional Intelligence Center, local police in Kona, and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, Beverly Hills PD extradited Redding back to Los Angeles, where he remains in custody on $250,000 bail.
The Police Chief addressed a Town Hall meeting just hours after the arrest. Chief Spagnoli stated, “I would like to thank the Nessah Synagogue leadership team, The Mayor and Beverly Hills City Council, the ADL, Los Angeles Police Department, Secret Service, the Hawaii Police Department, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney Head Deputy Steve Katz for their collaborative efforts to help solve this case in a swift manner. I would also like to thank the women and men of the Beverly Hills Police Department that I am so fortunate to lead. I am so proud of their tenacity and relentless efforts to bring this suspect to justice. We are committed to continue to work closely with our faith-based institutions on crime prevention, security assessments and safety. Last, we stand with our community in solidarity, to protect and serve, and commit to keeping Beverly Hills a safe place to live, work and worship.”
On Dec. 23, Redding plead not guilty in Los Angeles County Superior Court to one count each of vandalism of religious property and second-degree burglary, along with a penalty enhancement for a hate crime.
Redding faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison if convicted as charged.
In six days, the suspect was identified, located and arrested, prompting an outpouring of appreciation from Beverly Hills residents and the Jewish community just outside its borders.
One Los Angeles woman took the time to write Spagnoli an email:
“Thank you so much to the BHPD for all the hard work you did in finding the person who vandalized Nessah synagogue,” she wrote. “It is so much more common for people and police to just shrug their shoulders and move on after such crimes, but you actually did something outstanding over and beyond the call of duty. I do not live in Beverly Hills and I do not frequent the Nessah synagogue, but I am so impressed by the tenacity you have shown in finding the culprit and standing up to hate crimes. May G-d bless each and every member of the BHPD and may he continue to protect you and your families always. We are so grateful for the work you do.”
What’s App and Facebook messages within the Jewish community were equally complimentary, expressing gratitude for the way the police handled the situation and restored calm to the shaken congregation.
Subin said that level of community support is circular. The police support the community, and the city invests in the resources that law enforcement needs to do its job well and quickly.
“What we were able to do is unheard of in other police departments,” Subin said. “We are fortunate to work for a city that appreciates law enforcement so much that they give us the tools we need. We are very thankful for the Beverly Hills community and for the chief for giving us support.”
One woman on a community What’s App group returned the feeling of gratitude, saying simply, “Beverly Hills Police Dept. really is the best.”