Arsonist torches Jewish student center at University of Delaware
An arsonist torched a Jewish student center at the University of Delaware this week — though fire marshals have stopped short of calling the incident a hate crime, according to officials and a new report.
The blaze broke out just after 11 p.m. Tuesday at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life, The Newark Post reported.
No one was inside the building at the time and there were no injuries, the paper reported.
“A criminal arson investigation is underway, with investigators following up on leads,” assistant state fire marshal Michael G. Chionchio told the outlet.
The fire caused about $75,000 in damages to the building, according to an initial estimate by Chionchio. But a GoFundMe page launched by students who attend the Chabad Center said that a further inspection revealed between $150,000 and $200,000 in damages.
University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis and vice president for student life José-Luis Riera reported in a joint statement that “the Fire Marshal’s office has found no indicators that this case was a hate crime, though a thorough investigation continues.”
The Chabad Center is not owned by the university, but instead by the Wilmington-based organization Chabad of Delaware, the paper reported.
However, “it is a campus Jewish community center and sponsors a registered student organization,” Assanis and Riera said.
“We affirm our solidarity with the Jewish community at this difficult time,” they added.
In a statement issued to multiple outlets, Newark Mayor Jerry Clifton called the arson “a sickening act of hostility that threatens the safety and security of our inclusive, welcoming neighborhoods.”
“My thoughts are with the Jewish community and those affected by this tragedy,” he said. “I have faith that the Newark Police Department and partner agencies will work tirelessly to identify the individual or individuals responsible and bring them to justice.”
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