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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Gainesville police arrest man suspected of multiple hate crimes against Chabad UF Jewish Student Center

The man was arrested Thursday night


Gainesville Police Department arrested a man Thursday night who is suspected of multiple hate crimes against the Chabad UF Jewish Student Center.

Geoffrey Lush, 50, faces two felony charges including intimidation by threatening a mass shooting and destruction of property belonging to a synagogue. 

He is currently being held in Alachua County Jail without bond.

Police traced a threatening voicemail left for Chabad UF Nov. 24 to Lush. The voicemail said: “If you do not value the lives of children, then we do not value yours at all. At All. May you burn in the fires of hell for eternity. Every single one of you.”

The next morning, multiple signs directly outside the center were vandalized with graffiti messages that read “BURN IN HELL” and “CHILD MURDERS.” Additional antisemitic graffiti was found on the sidewalk. The damages were more than $200.

Lush expressed beliefs that aligned with the vandalism on his social media accounts.

His public defender did not immediately respond for comment. 

Rabbi Aron Notik said in a phone interview that the center’s activities have been unaffected by the “disgusting, false, hateful and hurtful messaging.”

“We are very determined not to focus on the negative [and] not to allow the actions of these types of people to deter us,” Notik said.

Contact Garrett Shanley at Follow him on Twitter @garrettshanley.

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