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.
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.
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.