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Prosecutor: Synagogue Firebomb Suspect Admitted To Throwing Incendiary Devices

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Anthony Graziano In Court Jan. 25 (credit: CBS 2)

Anthony Graziano In Court Jan. 25 (credit: CBS 2)

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HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Prosecutors say a Lodi man has admitted to firebombing two synagogues, telling police he continued to throw Molotov cocktails even after he heard screams.

Anthony Graziano pleaded not guilty Tuesday to an additional charge that he planned to attack the Jewish Community Center in Paramus.

Prosecutors told the court that the 19-year-old confessed to firebombing a synagogue in Paramus on Jan. 3. and then attacking a home attached to a synagogue in Rutherford several days later.

“He told police he failed in the original incident in Paramus. He considered it a failure, remember that building doesn’t burn down, and that he was going to ‘raise some eyebrows’ with what he did next,” Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Martin Delaney said in court.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

Last week, officials  announced new charges against Graziano, saying he planned but failed to carry out a firebombing at the JCC on Jan. 7. Prosecutors said that Graziano was seen on surveillance video and may have been spooked by a passing patrol car.

Graziano has already pleaded not guilty to nine counts of first-degree attempted murder, bias intimidation and aggravated arson for the Jan. 11 attack on Temple Beth-El in Rutherford.

“Mr. Graziano says after throwing the first Molotov cocktail, he heard screams from inside the house and continued to lob more bombs inside the house,” Delaney said.

But Graziano’s defense attorney Robert Kalisch is putting the blame on violent video games.

“Someone with their own problems they have within their own head who has been taken over by these games young people play now,” said Kalisch. “This young man does actually have a mental health history.”

“If he truly was mentally unstable, if he had some emotional issues, those sorts of things are also something that could contribute to overall risk that would lead him to engage in that sort of behavior,” said Paul Boxer, associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University.

“It’s extensive but I’ve learned through my investigation that this November he was in a situation where he actually called the Lodi court himself to bring him to the hospital because he was feeling crazy or something,” said Kalisch.

Prosecutors said Graziano had a special permit that allowed him to purchase rifles and shotguns, and that he was looking into buying a weapon but was arrested before he could.

After his arrest, authorities conducted a sweep of every Jewish facility within 10 miles of Graziano’s home. They used dogs to sniff for flammables and accelerants within the 10-mile radius because investigators say Graziano allegedly used a bike to carry out his attacks.

On Tuesday, a judge reduced his bail from $5 million to $2.5 million.

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