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Press Release

Utah Man Sentenced to 60 Months for Religiously-Motivated Attack on Synagogue and Gun Charges

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Macon Openshaw, 22, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Tena Campbell for the District of Utah to serve 60 months in prison for a bias-motivated attack at a local synagogue and for two unlawful gun possession charges. Openshaw was further ordered to pay $1,969 in restitution to the synagogue to repair the damage caused by his actions and was ordered to serve three years of supervised release following completion of his prison term.

On April 16, 2014, Openshaw pleaded guilty to the civil rights violation of damaging the synagogue and to the gun charges. As part of his plea, Openshaw admitted to firing three rounds from a Walther .22 caliber handgun at the Congregation Kol Ami synagogue in Salt Lake City in 2012. At the time of the attack, there were no congregants inside of the synagogue. Openshaw said he shot the synagogue because of its religious character. Openshaw also admitted to possessing a handgun with a destroyed serial number, which was the same handgun he used to shoot the synagogue. He also admitted to possessing several firearms and ammunition while he was subject to a protective order.

“Religiously-motivated violence cannot be tolerated by civil society,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “The department stands ready to combat violence based on a person’s religion, and will continue to prosecute these hate crimes vigorously.”

“Every person living in Utah has the right to be free from intimidating and threatening conduct,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen for the District of Utah. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah has a strong history of prosecuting those who violate the civil rights of others in our communities.”

This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos Esqueda of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah and Trial Attorney Nicholas Durham of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.

Updated May 18, 2016

Hate Crimes
Press Release Number: 14-738