Man accused of burning cross, threatening synagogue

CARY, N.C. — A North Carolina man is facing charges including ethnic intimidation after he allegedly made threats Saturday night at a synagogue in Cary and burned a cross in a public park last month, according to multiple reports.

Police arrested William Josephus Warden, 20, late Saturday night after a man threatened to damage Congregation Sha'arei Shalom, Cary police Capt. Randall Rhyne told The News & Observer.

The newspaper reported that a man, identified as Warden, rang the doorbell at the synagogue around 10:15 p.m. Saturday. A woman who monitors the doorbell, which is connected to the internet and had a camera, answered, at which time police told WRAL that Warden "made disparaging statements against the Jewish religion and people of the Jewish faith."

Authorities did not elaborate on the specific threats made. Citing court records, WRAL reported that Warden "was motivated by the recent mass shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue."

A man opened fire last month at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people and wounding six others in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history.

While investigating the threat made against Congregation Sha'arei Shalom, officials learned Warden had erected and burned a cross in Bond Park on Oct. 26, The News & Observer reported. The incident was not reported after it happened, according to the newspaper.

Under North Carolina law, people are forbidden from burning crosses on property "without first obtaining written permission of the owner or occupier of the premises," WNCN reported. Bond Park is owned by the Town of Cary, WRAL reported.

Jail records showed Warden remained jailed Monday on charges of ethnic intimidation and placing and burning a cross without permission.