A 72-year-old arson suspect accused of planning to burn down a Miami Beach condo complex to kill Jews was caught with 30 large containers of gasoline and a cache of explosive material.
“We are confident the work of our detectives prevented an imminent crisis,” police said following the arrest Friday of Walter Edward Stolper.
He is in jail, charged with first-degree attempted arson. There are now calls for Stolper to be charged with a federal hate crime.
He was apprehended in the building’s parking garage with two containers of gasoline, according to police who found 28 more containers in his storage locker. They also recovered sulfur powder, and potassium nitrate — both potential explosive materials and accelerants.
His plan was to pour gasoline down the building’s garbage chute, ignite the highly flammable liquid and use two recently purchased electrical fans “to fan the flames and cause maximum amount of damage,” charging documents say.
Police reported finding eight gasoline containers, that had been tossed down the building’s chute, in its receptacle Dumpster. Gasoline had also been poured down the chute from the 15th floor of the condo located on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach.,
Stolper was facing eviction papers and had expressed anger toward other residents at the condominium on past occasions, police said.
Last week, he told a witness was he “going to burn down the building with all the fucking Jews,” a police arrest report says.
What’s more, the Miami Herald reports, Stolper also bought padlocks and painted them red, intending to put them on the condo’s fire hoses to prevent their use by firefighters.
Police said they found Nazi books and material, including swastikas, in the suspect’s unit.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a statement, praising the Miami Beach Police Department and the FBI for acting promptly on a tip and “undoubtedly [thwarting] a potential mass-casualty event.”
“Based on available public information about the incident, we urge the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office to take a hard look at reclassifying and prosecuting this incident as a hate crime,” the ADL statement said.