CARMICHAEL, Calif. (KTXL) — The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a suspect Wednesday in connection to a series of hate crimes in Carmichael.
After a month and a half of surveillance, investigators were able to identify Nicholas Wayne Sherman, 33, as the suspect who targeted a synagogue, elementary school and several homes between Oct. 4 and Oct. 20.
Sherman is suspected of leaving swastika symbols, images of Hitler and bags of rice on the properties.
“The work doesn’t stop, and the hundreds of hours went in behind it, the search warrants, the tips that came in from our community,” said Sacramento County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jim Barnes.
FOX40 was invited exclusively by the sheriff’s office as deputies stopped Sherman in his vehicle after he left for work early Wednesday morning and arrested him. Law enforcement said they found a swastika symbol on his keychain and more flyers in the back of his SUV.
From inside his home, deputies said they seized more Aryan Nations and antisemitic flyers.
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones and Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said in a statement Sherman is charged with one felony and 13 misdemeanors.
Sherman was charged with one felony count of desecrating a religious symbol on the property of the Shalom Le Israel synagogue in Carmichael. Sherman was charged with 12 additional misdemeanor counts of terrorism by symbol for placing Aryan Nation flyers containing a swastika on the doorsteps of numerous Carmichael homes, and one additional misdemeanor count of terrorism by symbol for placing similar flyers on the property of Deterding Elementary School in Carmichael.
The first week of October, families in Carmichael were shocked to find bags of white rice with swastikas at homes in their neighborhood.
“On their doorstep, they found a Ziploc bag. It had a small amount of like cooking white rice and a flyer inside from the ‘Aryan Nation’ that had a swastika on it,” Sacramento County Sheriff’s Sgt. Rod Grassmann told FOX40 in October.
Officials reported at least 10 individual victims at that time but said there may be more.
Security video caught someone leaving a bag of rice at one home.
A homeowner, who spoke to FOX40 after the incident and wished to remain anonymous, said they have lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years.
“It shouldn’t be in any neighborhood. This is not right. They’re trying to force an opinion upon you, and it’s creating more dissension and separation, and un-unity. And what we’re supposed to live in is the united, the United States,” the homeowner said.
Shortly after the bags were located at the homes, deputies confirmed additional bags filled with rice and leaflets, with a swastika and the words “Aryan Nation” printed on them, were found at the Deterding Elementary School playground.
At that time, Sacramento County investigators and Homeland Security were working to find out if any fingerprints were left behind at the scenes.
Close to two weeks later, on Oct. 20, a similar incident was reported at Shalom Le Israel Messianic Synagogue.
A member of the synagogue arrived to find someone plastered flyers with images of Hitler to the large, white menorah outside the house of worship.
“It said something to the effect of ‘Hitler was right,’” Grassmann said in October, referring to the message on the flyers.
Grassman told FOX40 the incident was being investigated as a hate crime.
“This is a place where people should feel safe. When they go in their place of worship, everyone should feel safe,” he added.
Rabbi Boris Csiprush told FOX40 shortly after the incident it’s shocking that antisemitism still exists, and seeing those images of Hitler brings back hurtful memories.
“Guys, we are not afraid of you,” Csiprush said.
October’s incident wasn’t the first time Csiprush’s synagogue had been targeted. Three years ago, someone started a fire outside the front gate, and two months later, someone shattered the sign out front.
Detectives worked with investigators from other counties, where they said they have evidence of Sherman allegedly doing similar crimes.
“Then we had a similar incident that we found down in Aptosm but that was connected because another incident happened in El Dorado. And when we did a suspicious activity report — it goes to all agencies — that’s when the communication comes together and coordination,” Barnes said. “We now started talking, that’s how we found the identity. We started researching, and then we were able to get confirmation that this is the person responsible.”
“All crimes hurt not just the victim, but the entire community. This is especially true of crimes motivated by hate,” said Sheriff Scott Jones in Wednesday’s statement. “The Sacramento Sheriff’s Office—just like our community—has no tolerance for hate crimes of any kind, and they will be investigated to the fullest extent of our capability, and offenders will be identified and arrested.”
“Let me be very clear, hate crimes against a member of any group in our community is an assault on all of us and will not be tolerated,” Schubert added. “Those who target victims because of their race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, disability, gender or sexual orientation will be prosecuted by specially trained and experienced prosecutors. In addition to prosecuting hate crime offenses, my office works to educate the community on how to protect themselves and encourages them to report suspected hate crimes.”