Crime

Texas State student charged in Austin synagogue fire on Halloween

Franklin Barrett Sechriest

AUSTIN – Austin Fire Department Arson Investigators have charged Franklin Barrett Sechriest, San Marcos resident and student at Texas State University, in connection with a fire set at a synagogue in central Austin on Oct 31.

The fire occurred at Beth Israel Synagogue located at 3901 Shoal Creek Blvd at 9:05 pm.

The 18-year-old was arrested on Nov. 10 under the suspicion of arson, a first-degree felony with “intent to damage or destroy a place of assembly or worship.”

The fire caused roughly $25,000 in damages to the building.

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According to an arrest affidavit, surveillance footage showed a dark-colored Jeep, later identified as a 2021 black Jeep Cherokee, enter the north parking lot. The driver walked up to the Beth Israel front admin entrance carrying a green container, similar in size, shape and color to a green 5-gallon VP Racing Fuel utility.

Footage showed the driver exiting the vehicle heading in a direction toward the north area where the fire started. Investigators observed the ignition of the fire and the driver running back toward the vehicle before speeding off.

The front license plate was clearly visible in the surveillance video, which was registered to a resident of San Marcos, Nicole Sechriest. 

On Nov. 8, law enforcement personnel observed Franklin driving the Jeep Cherokee, matching the physical description from Beth Israel surveillance cameras.

Written by Amira Van Leeuwen

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