Two teens have been arrested for vandalizing the home of a beloved rabbi in Bonita Springs.
Seventeen-year-old Tucker Bachman and a 14-year-old will be charged with a felony. WINK News is not naming the 14-year-old because of his age.
Deputies say they destroyed a mailbox, smashed a car window and spraypainted the sidewalk with the term “Jew’s.”
The home they targeted belongs to Rabbi Mendi Greenberg of the Chabad of Bonita Springs, said Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.
Marceno announced the arrests during a press conference on Friday.
The incident happened on Jan. 31.
Marceno said detectives identified the teens as the culprits responsible for the crimes.
The two teens were initially charged with first-demeanor criminal mischief, Marceno said.
“Because their crime was motivated by hate and prejudice that misdemeanor charge is now enhanced to a felony,” Marceno said. “This behavior sickens me.”
“Contrary to what Whoopi Goldberg believes, the Holocaust was driven by hatred toward the race of people and sadly, hatred toward the Jewish people still exists today,” Marceno said.
Marceno said if there is a hate crime because of race, ethnicity it goes directly to a felony-level crime.
Marceno said he is sympathetic they are juveniles but he has zero-tolerance for anyone who commits a hate crime.
Marceno called this an isolated incident.
Greenberg said Lee County is a beautiful place to live and that in his 17 years in the community nothing like this has happened before.
“it’s obviously a minority but it also stains the community,” Greenberg said. “A little light sheds a lot of darkness.”
Greenberg asked people to act kindly toward one another.
“For the Jewish community, my message is there is nothing to be fearful for,” Greenberg said. “We are here to stay, we are not going anywhere. We are proud of who we are.”
Greenberg prays for everyone even those who harm him.
“My prayer is that they understand that there’s a focus in life, that’s to bring good to the world,” Greenberg said. “Unfortunately, a lot of our youth are not aware of that.”
As Greenberg and his family prepared their traditional Friday night Shabbat meal they were surprised to be joined by some new friends who wanted to help drown out the darkness. One had flowers and another had a card.