A Maryland man was arrested after he allegedly vandalized a Chick-fil-A restaurant and Jewish synagogue, targeting the establishments because of their religious views, police say.
Eric Joseph Sponaugle, 30, allegedly defaced a Chick-fil-A drive-thru menu, windows and façade with multiple phrases pertaining to homosexuality, such as “blood is on your hands” and “can’t pray the gay away,” WJLA-TV reported. A Chick-fil-A manager said the suspect, caught on surveillance video, appeared similar to a man who had previously rearranged letters on the marquee sign to say, “We hate gays.”
Sponaugle was also accused of vandalizing the B’nai Shalom synagogue in Olney, Maryland, by writing on a banner, “Justice for Palestinian people NOW!! Israel is a fascist apartheid state,” according to WJLA. The synagogue is located just down the street from the fast food restaurant.
Montgomery County Police arrested Sponaugle, who is charged with malicious destruction of property and defacing religious property, WJLA reported. He could face up to six years in jail as well as $11,000 in fines.
Sponaugle told WJLA he couldn’t comment on the charges against him, but said the alleged vandal highlighted “horrific abuses” at the establishments.
“Chick-fil-A’s well-documented history of using its profits to the detriment of LGBTQ youth is unconscionable and should not be ignored,” Sponaugle told the news outlet. “And while I would applaud the quote-unquote vandal for attempting to bring attention to these horrific abuses, I believe that this is a rather facile form of protest and that their energy would be better spent on more concrete activism.”
Olney is about 17 miles north of Washington, D.C.