Torahs were stolen and the holy ark was vandalized at...

Torahs were stolen and the holy ark was vandalized at Chabad of the Beaches in Long Beach. Credit: Rabbi Eli Goodman

Long Beach police arrested and charged a man with the burglary of a synagogue Saturday where several Torahs and silver crowns were stolen.

The Chabad of the Beaches on Walnut Street in Long Beach was found ransacked, with Jewish prayer shawls and Torahs strewed across the floor, a door of the holy ark broken off the hinges and several Torahs stolen.

Police said the burglary did not appear to be a hate crime or an antisemitic attack and arrested a suspect on Sunday, Police Commissioner Ron Walsh said.

Hunter McElrath, 23, was charged with burglary after he was discharged from the hospital on Sunday, Walsh said.

He was a person of interest in the burglary after police found him naked, wearing a prayer shawl and coming out of the water on the beach Saturday. He was arrested for disorderly conduct and released by police before he was taken to the hospital.

Rabbi Eli Goodman had discovered the synagogue ransacked on Saturday night.

"We’re all in shock," Goodman said. "As a rabbi, our role is to bring positivity and we have these greatest of challenges that have to think of how we grow as a community and rise above this."

Congregants had found silver crowns from Torahs on the beach Saturday that were turned over to police, unaware that they may have belonged to Chabad of the Beaches.

Police made the arrest after tips from several community members and viewing video surveillance footage taken from near the synagogue and other buildings.

McElrath did not give a motive to police for breaking into the temple, Walsh said.

He has several addresses around the country and has an extensive criminal history, Walsh added.

Police are still searching for the missing Torahs. Goodman said the Torahs span four generations and are priceless.

"The scribes are handwritten including 3000 letters and thousands of laws connected to writing a Torah. The sentimental value to have these Torahs missing are really irreplaceable," he said.

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