MANCHESTER, New Jersey (WABC) -- Police have arrested a man in connection with a bias crime spree that included a house fire and anti-semitic graffiti.
Ron Carr, 34, was arrested by Manchester Township Police and charged with 36 criminal counts including arson, and bias intimidation in the first degree.
Carr allegedly told police he torched the house and painted the swastikas because he thought the owners were Jewish.
Police received multiple calls about vandalism of homes in the Pine Lake Parks area on June 6. When officers arrived they found that the homes of 14 Jewish residents had graffiti scrawled on them including Nazi symbolism.
The next day police received a call about a fire in the same neighborhood and were told of a suspicious person on foot near the fire who matched the description of the vandalism suspect.
No one was injured in the fire, but the house was destroyed and three other homes were damaged.
You never think it can happen to you until it's you," said homeowner Brenda Rivas.
This was the Rivas' dream home. Not just for Brenda and Angel Rivas, but their two young daughters and Brenda's parents who poured their life savings into the home.
The couple sold their business to help pay for it.
"It's been really hard for me, for my parents," Rivas said. "That was their retirement, everything."
Late Tuesday night that dream went up in flames.
"I woke up at three, the whole house was engulfed in flames," neighbor Gil Lhotka said. "It started collapsing."
The Rivas family had no insurance but they have a community that has become their team. Yehuda Fryer's Company first cleaned away all the swastikas, then he and others got tons of donations to begin rebuilding the Rivas home.
"Dumpsters, roofing, siding, everyone I called said sure, let me know when I can come," Yehuda Fryer said.
The attorney general's office is investigating the case.
"No community in the State of New Jersey should feel vulnerable or anxious in the face of acts of intolerance," New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin said. "No resident should feel their personal safety or their home is threatened by bigotry, persecution and violence."
Carr is currently being held at a medical facility and will be transported to the Ocean County Jail pending his detention hearing.
First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000.
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