Four teens arrested after eight antisemitic vandalism incidents in Pensacola

Graffiti found at the Pensacola Liberation Center on Aug. 3. Courtesy PLC.

After a two-week antisemitic vandalism spree that hit eight sites in Pensacola, including two Jewish institutions, four teens have been arrested by Pensacola police.

The arrests were announced during the afternoon of Aug. 4. Seventeen-year-old Waylon Fowler, 15-year-old Wyatt Fowler, 16-year-old Nicholas Ferry, and 18-year-old Kessler Ferry have been charged with numerous crimes in connection with the eight incidents. The Ferrys are brothers, it is unclear at press time if the Fowlers are related.

Most of the incidents were antisemitic graffiti, but there was also the July 17 incident where a swastika-laden brick was thrown through the kitchen window of Chabad of Pensacola, and the July 28 attack on Temple Beth El, as two bricks were thrown through a bathroom window.

Rabbi Mendel Danow of Chabad of Pensacola said that Police Chief Eric Randall reached out to him to let him know about the arrests. “We are very grateful to the law enforcement for working so hard on this case and G-D willing bring these hate crimes to an end,” he said.

This past week, the community’s rabbis met with Mayor D.C. Reeves to discuss the rash of hate crimes.

After the arrest, Reeves said “Awesome investigative work by our men and women at Pensacola Police Department that clearly delivers an important message: if you conduct cowardly acts of hate in this city in an attempt to hurt or intimidate, we will find you and bring you to justice.”

“The extra hard work of investigators and many others in the Pensacola Police Department paid off today,” Pensacola Police Chief Eric Randall said. “We hope that these arrests can bring comfort and closure not only to those in our Jewish community, but to all citizens of this great city.”

In solving the case, Pensacola Police Officer Mike Wood said “we’ve had help from various sources.”

Though three of the four suspects are under the age of 18, all are being charged as adults. Waylon Fowler is charged with seven counts of felony criminal mischief, enhanced to a hate crime; one count of misdemeanor criminal mischief; one count of felony trespassing in a construction zone.

Kessler Ferry. Courtesy Escambia County Jail

Wyatt Fowler is charged with seven counts of felony criminal mischief, enhanced to a hate crime; one count of misdemeanor criminal mischief; one count of felony trespassing in a construction zone.

Nicholas Ferry is charged with four counts of felony criminal mischief, enhanced to hate crimes; one count of felony trespassing in a construction zone.

Kessler Ferry faces one count of felony criminal mischief, enhanced to a hate crime.

The parents of the Ferry brothers are family law attorneys in Pensacola.

In addition to the Beth El and Chabad attacks, there were swastikas and white power messages were painted on East Hill Animal Hospital, about halfway between Chabad and Beth El. Similar graffiti was found at the old Amtrak station.

There was also antisemitic graffiti at the end of a dead-end street by the I-110 off ramp near Gregory Street. On July 30, antisemitic graffiti was found on a building on South Palafox.

On Aug. 2, members of the Al-Islam Dawah Center found antisemitic graffiti on the door to their facility.

Numerous swastikas were also painted on the Pensacola Liberation Center on Aug. 3.

The center posted that “this disgusting, fascist vandalism campaign is an assault on all Jewish, Black, Latino, Asian, and LGBTQ people. It is an assault on all working class people of Pensacola. We will not be intimidated and we will not allow these fascists and nazis to continue their harassment campaign in our community.”

The PLC held a Night Our for Safety and Liberation on Aug. 4, to clean up the graffiti.

On March 4, the PSL’s International Women’s Day event was targeted by teens holding a Confederate flag and doing Nazi salutes. According to the PSL, “They repeatedly shouted racist and antisemitic slurs while attempting to physically intimidate attendees and unsuccessfully attempted to force their way onto our microphone. While carrying the Florida state flag they shouted “white power” while doing the Nazi salute. All but one wore a face mask in a cowardly attempt to conceal their identities.”

There has been speculation that the masked teens are the same ones who did this recent vandalism spree, but that has not been confirmed.

There was also a report in the Pensacola News Journal of an antisemitic incident at the Pensacola Navy Lodge on Aug. 3, but no details were available.

According to Pensacola Police, additional arrests are possible.

Just before Shabbat, Danow told WEAR-TV that there would be an extra L’Chaim on Shabbat, “for the prosperity and the peace in the Jewish community and entire Pensacola community.

“How is it that we have four teens in Pensacola where this is their pasttime? They find this as entertainment when they’re hurting so many people.”