A Florida man has been charged with attempted murder and attempted arson after police say they thwarted his plans to burn down a condominium building and “kill all Jews” inside of it.
Miami Beach police arrested Walter Edward Stolper on Thursday while responding to a report from his business associate alleging the 72-year-old threatened to set the condo ablaze as revenge for being served eviction papers.
Stolper had begun executing his plan Thursday when police stopped him in a parking garage, according to authorities. The suspect had two gasoline-filled containers with him in the garage and had already dumped several others down a trash chute in the building, police said.
He was charged Thursday with attempted arson. An attempted murder charge was added Friday after police discovered dozens of containers filled with gasoline and other chemicals in his storage unit.
Stolper, who had lashed out at his neighbors and the building’s board of directors in the past, told witness Luis Diaz on Thursday that he was “going to burn down the building with all the fucking Jews,” the Miami Herald reported.
“He was telling me that, you know, he was tired of the association in his building and ‘these Jews in the building’ and that he was going to do something about it,” Diaz told CBS Miami. “I thought he was venting, but then he got a little serious when he told me he started ordering canisters for fuel and that he was going to burn the building.”
Residents complained Thursday to building security officials that the hallways and elevator smelled strongly of gasoline, CBS Miami reported.
Detectives discovered items that could be used to fan the flames, as well as Nazi paraphernalia, inside his apartment, according to the Herald.
“Had our officers not investigated this tip as thoroughly as they did, we’d be possibly dealing with several casualties,” Ernesto Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department, told The New York Times.
Stolper told police he purchased the gasoline “to make a small BBQ,” according to a police report obtained by the Times. He is being held in a Miami-Dade County facility without bail.
The Florida chapter of the Anti-Defamation League called on the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office to investigate the case as a hate crime given Stolper’s alleged aggression toward Jews.
A representative for the state attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The FBI and U.S. attorney’s office are also working on the case, a spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department told HuffPost in an email Sunday.