Court documents: Man accused of attacking Bloomfield synagogue had map of other potential ‘targets’

Nicholas Malindretos appeared in Newark federal court on Thursday. A judge has ordered that he is to remain detained.

News 12 Staff

Feb 2, 2023, 8:22 PM

Updated 537 days ago

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A Clifton man accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail at the front door of a synagogue in Bloomfield had gasoline, lighters and a map of “targets” inside his home, according to authorities.
Nicholas Malindretos, 26, is charged with attempted use of fire to damage and destroy a building. A judge agreed to keep him detained after prosecutors argued that Malindretos would “present a danger to the community,” according to U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger.
Officials say that in addition to gasoline, wicks and lighters, they also found notes inside Malindretos’ home with a circle drawn in a 10-mile radius on a map, noting “a 10-mile radius of targets” with police and military as potential targets.
Police responded around 9:30 a.m. Sunday to a report of property damage at Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield. Surveillance video showed that a man had approached the synagogue hours earlier with a Molotov cocktail, which he lit and threw at the door. Police said the glass bottle broke but didn’t cause any damage to the temple, and the suspect fled down the driveway.
A license plate reading device located nearby captured a vehicle passing by shortly before and shortly after the incident, according to federal prosecutors. Authorities found the vehicle in nearby Clifton and saw several items consistent with the video of the incident visible inside.
Authorities obtained a search warrant for the vehicle, which they said belonged to Malindretos. Video cameras in the area where it was parked captured footage of the vehicle parking and a man with the same physical characteristics as Malindretos getting out and entering a nearby building.
A vigil was held outside of the synagogue several hours after Malindretos faced a judge.
“They’ve seen an uptick in antisemitism. They know that’s happening in our community, but this is really taking it to a new level – violence that concerns us all,” says Rep. Mikie Sherrill.
Sherrill represents the 11th District, where Temple Ner Tamid is located.
Authorities also said that Malindretos may suffer from a mental illness, but that he has not been diagnosed.
“We also need to make sure we are protecting the right to religious freedom and protecting people in general while also providing the help people with mental illness need,” says state Assembly Member Britnee Timberlake.
If convicted, Malindretos could face five to 20 years in federal prison. It was not clear if he would also be facing bias-related charges.
Malindretos’ next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 15.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.


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