Man arrested in vandalism of Montgomery Co. synagogue

August 05, 2010|By Dan Morse, The Washington Post

With a police officer approaching, Ian Baron appears to have tried to get out in front of the story early Sunday morning at a McDonald's in Montgomery County.

"Is it about the synagogue?" asked the 22-year-old with Nazi tattoos on his arm and chest, police said. He went on to explain why his fingerprints would be found on cans of spray paint outside a desecrated synagogue half a mile away, according to police accounts filed Wednesday.

Baron's explanation didn't wash, said police, who arrested him on three charges related to $15,000 to $20,000 in damage at the B'nai Shalom Synagogue in Olney a week ago. He was being held on $5,000 bond Wednesday.

Baron grew up in Olney, 10 miles north of the Capital Beltway. In recent years, he has shown an affinity for drinking and violence, according to court records, and made no secret of his neo-Nazi views. Officers who worked the Olney area knew him as homeless. He was recently caught drinking at a bus stop and had been sleeping in a friend's vehicle and in a shack with "White's Only" painted on the front door, according to court records and police sources.

Court records show he has not yet retained an attorney in the case. A call to a defense attorney who has represented Baron in the past was not returned Wednesday.

Sometime the night of July 25 or early July 26, the synagogue was spray-painted with anti-Semitic graffiti and swastikas on its exterior walls, retaining walls, light posts and in a parking lot. Also, loose change was scattered near the entrance. Among the markings were "Juden raus," which means "Jews out" and was used by Nazis, and "Work will set u free," a reference to a sign over the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Baron was developed as a suspect early in the case, according to sources who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they weren't authorized to discuss the case.

Last year he pleaded guilty to malicious destruction of property, stemming from a incident in a CVS parking lot in which he punched out a car windshield, according to police accounts. Baron told an officer that when he gets drunk he can be violent, according to court papers. Two years prior, he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault after his former girlfriend said he choked and punched her, according to the records.

Early Sunday morning, Officer Aaron Bachofsky spotted Baron at the McDonald's, according to court records.

After he approached, Baron told him he knew about the synagogue incident and didn't do it, but "could see why people thought he did," Detective J.A. Bates wrote in an arrest affidavit. As for the fingerprints on the spray paint cans, Baron said he'd walked by the synagogue the night of the vandalism, picked up the cans, realized what they'd been used for and threw them down, according to Bates's account.

Baron also had an explanation for any change that may have been found at the door.

"Baron stated that some change may have spilled out of his pockets while he retrieved a knife from his pockets," Bates wrote. "Baron stated that he took the knife out when he saw some unknown suspects running from the area. Ofc. Bachofsky asked Baron if he could describe the suspects. Baron stated he could not."

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