Miami Beach Man Planned Anti-Semitic Murder, Police Say
MIAMI BEACH, Florida - September 15, 2018
A man was arrested Thursday after he tried to burn down his condominium building in the city and "kill all the Jews," police said.
Police say they found Walter Stopler, 72, with gas-filled containers.
According to the report, the man was angry after having recently been served with eviction papers. Stopler's neighbor told to police that Stopler had told him he was going to pour gasoline down the drain line of the building, ignite it and then padlock the building's fire hoses to prevent firefighters from extinguishing the flames.
Investigators later found Stopler in the parking garage of the building, pushing two plastic containers in a shopping cart, Miami Beach police Officer Ernesto Rodriguez said. The containers were filled with gas. Investigators said they found eight more plastic containers filled with gas in a garbage chute dumpster.
According to the arrest affidavit, gas had been poured down the chute from the 15th floor -- the same floor on which Stopler lived. Investigators said the plastic containers were identical to the ones found in the shopping cart.
"I bought the gas to make a small BBQ," Stopler told police, according to the affidavit.
Rodriguez added detectives later found a storage room in the building holding 28 additional containers filled with gas, sulfur powder and potassium nitrate.
"We remain confident the work of our detectives averted a tragedy," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the state attorney's office will decide whether Stopler should be charged with a hate crime.
Earlier after the repeated appearances of unknown suspicious people and according to the stories of eyewitnesses, the city decided to equip the hotel complexes and some residences with special panic buttons to help protect residents.
Chicago, New York and Seattle already require installation of panic buttons.
As for the hotels, if the ordinance passes, there will also be a sign on the hotel door letting guests know that the staff is equipped with the device.
One push alerts authorities that the people feel unsafe.
"I think it will go a long way toward changing behavior and that's what we wanted to do," Miami Beach Commissioner Kristin Rosen Gonzalez said.