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Duluth, a synagogue on fire was act of arson, 1,, apparently not a hate crime: police

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A man charged with burning down a historic Last synagogue in the previous week do not seem to have been motivated by a religious bias, researchers said on Sunday.

Matthew Amiot, 36, is accused of the arson at the Adas Israel Congregation, a synagogue in Duluth overnight Tuesday. A possible reason for that had not yet been established.

“On the basis of all the information that I have seen… there is no reason to believe that this was a bias or hate crime,” Duluth police chief Mike Tusken told a news conference, as Minnesota Public Radio reported. “That could change, but at this point in time, that is, it is the determination to do it.”

Firefighters working on the scene of the fire that engulfed and destroyed a synagogue in the city of Duluth this past Monday. (Brooks Johnson/the Star Tribune via AP)

Amiot, of no fixed address, is in Duluth, was arrested Friday and booked into the jail on arson charges, investigators said.

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Amiot also had a rap sheet of previous arrests, MPR reported.

The fire started in a barn out of the synagogue, and in the distribution of the building early on Monday, with Chief Shawn Krizaj says. No accelerants were found.

At the press conference, the synagogue, the Rabbi Philip Sher praised the heroic efforts of the firemen to save the works of art and religious items out of a burning building, such as a radio station reported.

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“I don’t want to speculate about the man’s motives, and I do want to warn everybody — you know, you are innocent until proven guilty, and that the united states, as it should be,” Sher said. “We’re not out for revenge. All I can find of this event is grief for everyone else.”

The synagogue was built in 1902.

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Rescuers retrieved eight of the 14 Torah scrolls from the fire.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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