AUSTIN – Yesterday, a federal grand jury in Austin returned a three-count indictment charging Franklin Barrett Sechriest, 19, of San Marcos with crimes for the intentional fire set at a synagogue in Austin on October 31, 2021.
According to court records, Sechriest was seen on surveillance video carrying a five-gallon container and toilet paper toward the synagogue’s sanctuary. Moments later, multiple surveillance videos captured the distinct glow of a fire that appeared to come from the sanctuary. A security camera captured Sechriest jogging away from the direction of the sanctuary and fire towards the open driver’s side door of a vehicle.
During the search of Sechriest’s residence, agents found items similar to those seen on the surveillance videos, including similar clothing and a receipt for a five-gallon container similar to the one seen on video. Also found were various handwritten journals that contained statements related to the synagogue fire.
Sechriest has remained in federal custody since his arrest on November 12, 2021.
The indictment charges Sechriest with one count of Damage to Religious Property; one count of Use of Fire to Commit a Federal Crime; and one count of Arson. Sechriest faces a maximum 30 years in prison for the Damage to Religious Property count; a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison to run consecutive to any other sentence on the Use of Fire count; and a maximum 20 years in prison for the Arson count.
Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Devlin and Trial Attorney Andrew Manns of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Austin Fire Department are investigating the case.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.