Texas Man Gets Decade in Slammer for Synagogue Blaze on Halloween after Ten Years of Torment

Texas Man Gets Decade in Slammer for Synagogue Blaze on Halloween after Ten Years of TormentSource: US Department of Justice
Natalie Petrovich
Published on November 30, 2023

A young Texas man's despicable act of antisemitic arson has earned him a decade behind bars. Franklin Sechriest, 19, from San Marcos, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for setting the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue ablaze back on Halloween night in 2021. The hate-fueled attack didn't just scorch the walls of a historic place of worship; it aimed to intimidate an entire community.

After pleading guilty to the heinous crime this past April, Sechriest's conviction included three years of supervised release post-prison and a staggering $470,000 in restitution payments. His own journals, crammed with rampant antisemitic vitriol, painted a clear picture of his intent—a loathsome hatred against Jews that prompted the attack.  “This defendant is being held accountable for this depraved, antisemitic attack on Congregation Beth Israel, a community with a rich history and heritage that dates back to 1876,” stated the Justice Department.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said, “This hate-filled act of violence against a house of worship was an attempt to sow fear in the Jewish community and was intended to intimidate its congregants.”

On the night of the crime, Sechriest was caught on surveillance carrying flammable materials towards the sanctuary and was swiftly seen fleeing the scene once the fire was lit. A “concerned citizen” reported the blaze, enabling firefighters to respond and extinguish it, saving the structure from further damage. Sechriest's journal entries following the attack, detailed by the Justice Department.