SARASOTA — Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office officially arrested the suspect in recent vandalism at Jewish temples in Sarasota.
Vincent A. Martinez, 21, of the 5800 block of Driftwood Avenue in Sarasota, was jailed Tuesday afternoon after a warrant was issued for his arrest a week ago. Authorities said Friday that he was in a “secure medical facility.”
Martinez is accused of spray-painting swastikas and damaging Temple Emanu-El and Temple Sinai in recent crimes that were captured on video. The damage took place April 2 and July 15.
He is facing three counts of criminal mischief by defacing and damaging a synagogue — classified as felony hate crimes. No bail was listed as available for Martinez as of Wednesday morning.
Martinez became the focus of the investigation following the release of images and videos of damage at the synagogues.
The first incident took place April 2 at Temple Emanu-El, 151 McIntosh Road. A security camera captured images of a man spray-painting swastikas on walls. The vandal returned July 15, with a security camera again recording the suspect spray-painting swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti again at Temple Emanu-El and also at Temple Sinai, 4631 South Lockwood Ridge Road.
Martinez became “a possible suspect” after images were released by authorities to the news media and social media.
“The investigation revealed Martinez used a nearby ATM shortly after the first incident wearing the same clothing seen in security footage,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
The investigation also has linked him to the July 15 incidents through cellphone records, authorities said.
“The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office takes hate crimes such as these very seriously,” Sarasota County Sheriff’s Col. Kurt A. Hoffman said in the news release. “Our detectives worked tirelessly with help from the community to bring this case to a successful conclusion.”
In the meantime, The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee announced a matching gift to help fund raise for the security of the Jewish community in the area.
It announced a $100,000 matching gift in a July 22 news release.
The matching gift is coming from the Federation’s board restricted endowment fund.
“As anti-Semitism increases around the country and now, right here in our own backyard in Sarasota-Manatee, we must take action,” Federation Chief Executive Officer Howard Tevlowitz said. “The response must be two-fold. We must keep our Jewish houses of worship safe and eradicate anti-Semitism at its core by education.”
The “Keep Us Safe” fund is seeking donations with money raised going toward a full-time security director, technology upgrades and more cameras at area synagogues, along with hiring more security guards, the news release said.
It will also include funding for “many more educational programs about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust for schools, universities and the general community,” it said.
The Federation said it has already hired a community security director to work with area synagogues and others “on their safety protocols.”
For more information or to make a donation, visit: jfedsrq.org/keepussafe