Arrest made in arsons at local synagogue

LAS VEGAS - An arrest has been made in the arsons at a local synagogue. The Las Vegas Fire Department is reporting that the suspect is at Clark County Detention Center.

Afshin Bahrampour, 47, is facing multiple counts of arson in connection to the fires.

The car fires took place Monday at the Chabad Center of Southern Nevada on Arville Street near Charleston Boulevard.

The fire chief told 8 News NOW the fire was intentionally set around 8 p.m.  The ATF are also investigating.

Two other vehicles near the car that was set ablaze were also damaged by the flames, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue said.

The fire interrupted prayer services when a member spotted the flames.

"There are five cars here, the fourth car is the car that was set on fire, it was the white car," said Rabbi Motti Harlig.

Initially, Rabbi Harlig thought the fire was accidental.

"Then my father came out later and was like, somebody actually lit it. I was shocked," he said.

Harlig's father is the head rabbi.

Hours earlier, he went through the security video which shows a man enter through the center's doors around 6:30 p.m. A minute later, a fire is discovered in a trash can in the men's bathroom. He says, the same man is shown on surveillance light the car on fire. 

"He wanted to give the benefit of doubt, it was an accident. Maybe someone dropped a cigarette in the garbage," Rabbi Motti said.

Overnight, police arrested Bahrampour in connection with both fires. He is charged with one count of first degree arson, three counts of third degree arson and one count of burglary.

This is not his first brush with the law. Bahrampour is a registered sex offender out of Oregon in a case from 1998. 

For now, police are not calling this a hate crime, but with a swastika tagged on the building back in February, Rabbi Motti thinks otherwise.

"I believe a person that comes into an actual synagogue, then comes back two more times, to a specific synagogue just to light a car on fire. I believe that's the only interpretation."

For now, there will be heightened security at the center.

 

 


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