He said God commanded him to draw the devil.
A man from Modesto, CA is being charged with vandalism and arson after he allegedly set a fire outside of a Modesto synagogue and drew a devil on the sidewalk outside. Brett Bisnett arrived at the Congregation Beth Shalom on October 8 and set a teddy bear on fire on the grounds outside of the building while ripping plants out from the flowerbeds out front. Next, he drew a devil on the sidewalk using a permanent marker.
When he was confronted by police who promptly responded to the incident, he told them he had been commanded by God to draw the devil figure. Bisnett, 37, claimed to suffer from mental health issues. This claim was taken up by Lt. Steve Stanfield, who said this does not have the hallmarks of a hate crime. It seems more like the fire was lit for warmth. Still, the officer recognizes the fact the fire could have burned out of control and become a more significant issue.
As of the following morning, the damage Bisnett did was still apparent on the grounds as the plants had not been replaced and the drawing of the devil was still there. The suspect remains in police custody where he is set to face charges for vandalism of a place of worship, arson, and violation of his parole.
The indiscernible devil combined with the damage done to the property was startling to residents and members of the congregation who worship at the synagogue. Hate crimes against religious figures are a hot-button topic throughout California as well as the United States as a whole. Jewish establishments are no stranger to such awful attacks, and even though this incident does not appear to share a hateful motivation, it is nonetheless disturbing.