Cary man charged with burning cross at Jewish synagogue
Cary, NC – Cary police linked a single man – William Josephus Warden, 20, – to two recent instances of ethnic intimidation, and they and the FBI are investigating to see if he is linked to others.
Police say Warden burned a cross on Oct. 26 at Bond Park, which is owned by the Town of Cary.
On Saturday night, officers say, he rang the doorbell at Congregation Shaarei Shalom, located at 700 Old Apex Road, then made threats to the person who answered.
Although the synagogue was empty, a staff member was able to answer the doorbell remotely when Warden rang it at about 10:15 p.m.
“The rhetoric was very typical, anti-Semitic hate speech: Get out of the government, get out of Cary, get out of our country,” said Rabbi Seth Klayman.
“We are taking it very seriously, and we are grateful to local law enforcement who are taking it seriously,” Klayman said, “but for us this is not going to thwart us from continuing on our path of bringing good and light into our community.”
Warden’s parents, Billy Warden and North Carolina Appellate Court Judge Lucy Inman, say their son is mentally ill, and that his alleged crimes don’t reflect the values they have tried to teach.
In a statement issued after his arrest, they wrote:
As Will’s parents, we could not be more saddened by the alleged conduct of our son on November 3rd.
Our family is inclusive and respectful of all people.
Sadly, we, like many families, are dealing in this case with a mental illness, which we recognize and for which we have sought and continue to seek treatment.
Our observations and our communications with law enforcement lead us to believe that our son has been exploited by people whose agenda is completely opposed to the inclusive values we espouse and live.
As deeply concerned parents, we apologize profusely to the Jewish community and to all who have been impacted. And we are treating this situation with utmost seriousness.
Hours before the threat, Congregation Shaarei Shalom had a service in which they honored those killed and injured in a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue last week. In the arrest warrant, officers said Warden was motivated by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.
“We don’t respond with fear. But we do want to respond with positive action and continue about our business of seeking to make the world a better place,” Klayman said.
At a hearing on the case Monday afternoon, Judge Eric Chasse asked that Warden undergo a mental evaluation. Chasse set Warden’s bond at $75,000 on information from prosecutors that he may be tied to additional crimes.
Warden’s next court appearance was scheduled for Dec. 10.
His two misdemeanor charges each carry a maximum sentence of 120 days in jail.