WASHINGTON — An anonymous Twitter account sending out anti-Semitic messages helped lead police to a Northern Virginia college student they say spray-painted swastikas and other Nazi imagery on a Fairfax County Jewish Community Center and nearby church.
Fairfax County police arrested 20-year-old Dylan M. Mahone, of Annandale, on Wednesday in connection with the vandalism that appeared at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia and the Little River United Church of Christ earlier this week.
Mahone has been charged with multiple counts of felony destruction of property, placing a swastika on religious property with the intent to intimidate and wearing a mask in public to conceal his identity. Each of the felonies carries a potential punishment of between one and five years in prison, police said.
Mahone is also suspected of posting anti-Semitic flyers on a campus of Northern Virginia Community College last month, police said. Mahone attended the school for one semester, Fairfax County police spokeswoman Julie Parker said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.
Parker said police traced Mahone to all three incidents using surveillance videos and an anonymous Twitter account he operated.
“One of the tools that law enforcement will use, as you’re probably well area, is to scour social media and see what information is out there,” Parker said. “This suspect’s use of social media led us to him.”
Anti-Semitic flyers containing swastikas, slurs used to refer to Jewish people and phrases such as “Just Say No to Jewish Lies,” showed up on the Annandale campus of Northern Virginia Community College on March 20. The flyers also contained the phrase “Aryan Underground,” and when police searched the internet, they discovered a similarly named Twitter account that contained images of the same flyers.
The anti-Semitic graffiti that showed up this week at the Jewish community center and the church also contained the initials “AU,” which police believed to be a reference to the Twitter account, according to police documents.
Police also said they recovered clothing, a mask and spray paint that ties Mahone to the incidents.
The vandalism shocked the community’s Jewish Community Center, which serves up to 10,000 people a year. Earlier this week, center director, Jeff Dannick called the vandalism “absolutely devastating.”
At Thursday’s news conference, Dannick thanked police and said the response to the incident had pulled the community together.
“This has been a dark few days for us and … the fact that it happened on Passover is particularly hurtful to our community and during Holy Week as well. But in order for there to be light, there has to be darkness first. So, what I’m looking at is the light.”