On January 13, 2021 CTV News reported, “One man is in police custody after one of Montreal’s largest synagogues was vandalized with anti-Semitic symbols on Wednesday [January 6, 2021]. Swastikas were painted onto the doors of Westmount’s Congregation Shaar Hashomayim. Adam Scheier, the synagogue’s rabbi, said the suspect had also brought a gasoline canister with him… A spokesperson for the SPVM said the suspect was 28 years old and likely suffering from mental health problems.”
The Montreal Gazette provided details about the suspect: “Adam Riga, 28, a resident of the St-Laurent borough, appeared before a judge at the Montreal courthouse Thursday morning… Riga is charged with possessing incendiary and explosive materials with the intention of committing a criminal act. The materials are a container of gas and a lighter. He is also charged with threatening to set fire to a synagogue. He was represented by a legal aid lawyer during his first court appearance.”
On January 13, 2021Corey Fleischer, a Montreal activist who has been running Erasing Hate from public spaces, posted on Facebook:
The desecration of Montreal’s Shaar Hashomayim synagogue, WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!!! The synagogue’s security team stepped in right away, apprehended the suspect and immediately Erased the Swastikas. The security guards need to be recognized by the city of Montreal for the great job they did in securing the building.
“This message was sent out today to Shaar, Akiva, and Foundation School families:
We begin by reassuring you that everyone at the Shaar, Akiva School, and Foundation School is safe.
Today, our synagogue was the target of an anti-Jewish act. At around 2 PM, a man walked up to the Cote St. Antoine doors and spray-painted swastikas on them. The Shaar’s security guard, Alex Kuczma, saw this on the surveillance cameras and immediately went to apprehend the perpetrator. Alex then called for help, and within a short time the police arrived and arrested the man. The perpetrator had a cannister of gasoline with him. At this time, we don’t have any reason to fear further attacks against our synagogue building, and we will remain vigilant as always.
The graffiti has been removed and the man is in police custody.”