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MA Man Arrested For Attempted Arson At Jewish Living Facility

The seal of the U.S. Department of Justice

Authorities have arrested and charged a Massachusetts man for attempted arson at a Jewish assisted living facility in Longmeadow. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI on April 15 said John Michael Rathbun placed a homemade incendiary device at the entrance of Ruth’s House on April 2. Authorities say a burnt Christian religious pamphlet was placed in the nozzle of the five-gallon gas canister. Blood stains on the canister handle and the pamphlet were used to identify Rathbun.

Authorities say the facility was being discussed on white supremacist online platforms. Ruth’s House is located near several other Jewish facilities, includes temples, a school and a community center.

“In times of national crisis, hatred based on religion often blossoms into violence,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. “We will find, investigate and aggressively prosecute anyone engaged in this kind of mayhem. I also extend my thanks to the Longmeadow Police Department for its help with this investigation.”

“This case highlights the very real threat posed by racially motivated violent extremists and make no mistake, the FBI will use every investigative tool available, along with the expertise and skills of our partners on our Joint Terrorism Task Forces, to identify, assess and disrupt threats like this one to keep our communities safe," said Joseph Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. 

Rathbun, 36, of East Longmeadow, faces up to 20 years in prison. 

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org