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Security footage shows suspect starting fire inside Pueblo’s Temple Emanuel

temple emanuel fire

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- A Pueblo woman is facing potential arson charges after lighting the inside of the Temple Emanuel School Building on Fire.

This is the same synagogue that an alleged white supremacist planned to bomb back in November, but authorities don't believe this case is connected to those terroristic threats.

Around 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, Pueblo Police officers along with Pueblo firefighters responded to a structure fire call at the synagogue location on 1300 block of Grand Avenue.

Firefighters quickly put out the flames on the inside of the building, while police investigated. Investigators quickly identified a suspect, 62-year old Patricia DeCesaro. The woman was found at the scene and was taken into custody on first-degree arson and second-degree burglary charges.

KRDO has obtained security camera footage inside the Temple Emanuel School Building showing what looks like to be DeCesaro inside the building when the fire began.

“I check the cameras often cause I have it on my phone," said Michael Atlas-Acuna, the President of Temple Emanuel. "I check them in the morning and I check them at night, but I wasn’t checking at 2 in the afternoon.”

The camera footage shows who Police believe to be DeCesaro coming into the building through the back door, then rummaging through the building. The building is usually reserved for Hebrew classes and small Jewish community gatherings.

After taking several items, flickers can be seen igniting a fire just out of view of the camera. At the same time, the suspect is seen casually takes a sip of water from the fountain, and checks to see what's in the fridge while flames continue to build just a few feet behind.

A few minutes later, cameras show a quick flash or explosion, smoke begins to quickly fill the building. Not long after, the suspect casually leaves.

When Atlas-Acuna first saw the damages, he immediately thought the worst.

“I thought, is this another anti-Semitic attack?”

Back in November, 27-year old Richard Holzer was taken into custody after allegedly plotting to poison and bomb the Pueblo Synagogue. However, authorities don’t believe this case is connected to the recent bomb plot.

“At that point it made me feel better," said Atlas-Acuna. "Then the reality hit that we have all this renovation to do now.”

The Temple's President says they are insured but he believes those renovations will still cost thousands. Atlas-Acuna says some in the community have already reached out to try and help financially.

If you’d like to reach out to the temple and help during this difficult time you can call the Temple's administration at (719) 544-6448

Local News / Pueblo

Dan Beedie

Dan is a bureau reporter based out of Pueblo. Learn more about Dan here.

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