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Man admits to setting police car on fire outside synagogue

Suspect has other arsons on his social media, tells police God told him to do it

Investigators say Brian Bocage, 21, admitted that he set an unoccupied police car on fire outside a Lauderhill synagogue this week.

LAUDERHILL, Fla. – A man is behind bars, accused of setting a police car ablaze outside a Lauderhill synagogue, and authorities believe he is behind other arsons.

Brian Bocage, 21, was arrested Thursday night and faces multiple counts of arson, criminal mischief, and possessing and manufacturing firebombs. He confessed to the crime in Lauderhill, according to police, and then made his first court appearance Friday afternoon.

The fire was set shortly before midnight Wednesday in the parking lot of the Synagogue of Inverrary-Chabad at 6700 Northwest 44th Street.

According to police, surveillance video showed a man with a container walking up to the unoccupied vehicle and pouring some kind of liquid on it before it was set on fire. Nobody was injured in the fire, and the synagogue was not damaged.

Brian Bocage, 21, is accused of setting a police car on fire outside a synagogue. He faces criminal mischief and arson charges.

Detectives say Bocage even posted video of the crime on Instagram. His social media account also shows a video from Dec. 3 where someone threw apparent firebombs at North Lauderdale’s veterans memorial. The Broward Sheriff’s Office believes he is behind that crime as well.

Another social media post shows the same type of behavior at a Civil War monument in Tennessee.

Bocage doesn’t have much of a criminal history prior to this arrest. According to his arrest form, Bocage admitted to police that he used gasoline to light the car on fire but said he knew it was empty and meant no harm to police or to the Jewish community.

As for why he did it, he apparently told officers that God spoke to him and told him to.

His bond was set at more than $160,000.

A 21-year-old man is accused of setting an unoccupied police car ablaze in the parking lot of a Lauderhill synagogue. He apparently posted video of the crime on social media.

Rabbi Levi Chanowitz of the synagogue woke up to a call from police that the suspected arsonist was arrested.

“We’re glad he’s off the streets and not a danger to society,” Chanowitz said.

After a sign was destroyed in a vandalism incident at that synagogue earlier this month, the unoccupied police car was left in the parking lot to scare away would-be criminals.

“My message to this individual is to find God,” said the rabbi’s wife Estie Chanowitz. “Find peace in your own life.”

Anyone with further information about the case is asked to call the Lauderhill Police Department or Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.

About the Authors:

Parker Branton joined Local 10 News in January 2019 as a reporter. He was born and raised in Rome, Georgia, but now loves living on the sunny beaches of South Florida.

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.