Man gets 39 years for firebombing temple
OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a man to 39 years in prison for firebombing a Jewish temple and later trying to send a racist letter to the congregation. The defendant raised his hand in a stiff-armed Nazi salute as the judge left the court.
Sean Gillespie, 21, of Spokane, Wash., was found guilty in April of three bombing-related charges for hurling a Molotov cocktail at Temple B’Nai Israel a year earlier. The act, which caused minor damage to a brick wall and a glass door, was captured on a security videotape.
Gillespie’s sentence was lengthened because of the letter he attempted to send to the temple after his conviction. The letter, which was read in court, expressed hatred toward the Jewish people and a desire to spark a racial holy war.
Temple B’Nai Israel’s Rabbi Barry Cohen said the attack sparked fear and anger among temple members.
“There was little physical damage to the building, but there was clear psychological damage,” Cohen said. “In this country, we can’t be afraid in our places of worship. That’s just not acceptable.”