May 21, 2019
INDIANAPOLIS – An Indiana man whose beliefs in Nazism and white supremacy motivated him to paint swastikas at a Carmel synagogue last year was sentenced to prison for the hate crime, federal authorities said.
Nolan Brewer, 21, of Eminence, Indiana, was sentenced Monday for conspiring to violate the civil rights of Congregation Shaarey Tefilla, a Jewish synagogue, in the July 28, 2018, defacement. Brewer pleaded guilty to the federal hate crime, U.S Attorney Josh J. Minkler said in a news release Tuesday.
Brewer was also ordered to repay the synagogue $700 for the damage.
Brewer and his wife painted Nazi flags and iron crosses on the walls of a trash enclosure at the synagogue, federal and Hamilton County authorities said.
Prosecutors said evidence showed the vandalism was not a "spur-of-the-moment childhood prank" but rather an attack fueled by Brewer's beliefs in Nazism. He told investigators that he and his wife, a minor, targeted the synagogue because it was "full of ethnic Jews," authorities said.
The synagogue was located more than 50 miles from Brewer’s home.
Authorities said Brewer and his wife painted two red and black Nazi flags that were flanked by two iron crosses, which were symbols of Adolph Hitler's Nazi regime, on synagogue property.
The couple originally planned to torch the synagogue, according to federal officials. They had intended to break in and set fire to it by igniting homemade "Drano bombs" –overpressure explosive devices made with Drano – and letting the explosion create and spread a fire throughout the synagogue.
A witness testified that Brewer told her he and his wife got "spooked" by the synagogue's security cameras and lights, so they instead defaced the walls and burned the ground with homemade napalm.
In the months leading up to the attack, co-workers at Brewer's two jobs testified that Brewer openly identified with Nazism and white supremacy at work. He wore a swastika necklace and made racist and anti-Semitic remarks, witnesses said.
After the vandalism, Brewer bragged to co-workers and a friend about what he had done, witnesses said. He was arrested a few weeks after the attack.
Brewer reportedly told investigators his goal was to "spark more radicalism" and make "news headlines." Authorities said Brewer also wanted to intimidate the congregation.
"They tried to evoke hatred and fear," he said. "And what they produced was an outpouring of love and support and solidarity."
IndyStar reached out to Shaarey Tefilla for comment on Tuesday.
Last year, the Hamilton County prosecutor's office said Brewer's wife is accused of criminal mischief and arson. It's unclear if her case is pending or has been resolved. IndyStar has reached out to the prosecutor's office for comment.
Contributing: Vic Ryckaert and Justin L. Mack of The Indianapolis Star