Justin Shawn Baker - Vandalism ($60,000+)
Security Guard Accused of Defiling Jewish Artifacts
JACKSON, Tenn. - A war veteran in West Tennessee faces serious charges of crimes against members of the Jewish community.
Jackson police arrested Justin Shawn Baker, 24, and charged with vandalism between $60,000 and $250,000, Saturday. Investigators said Baker, who works as a Maxxguard security guard inside Double Tree Hotel, damaged or destroyed several religious artifacts that are used in religious ceremonies. The items belonged to a Rabbi and Margolin Hebrew Academy who were staying in the hotel.
Frankie Lax, President of Maxxguard, said he is disappointed in Baker, who he said has dedicated his entire life to protecting the freedoms of the Constitution.
"I'm shocked. We are talking about a young man who is a U.S. Army veteran from Iraq, with several commendations from U.S. military and several medals," said Lax. "We live in a country where we have religious freedom. We could practice any religion we want. It's very disrespectful and very troubling."
Lax said Baker's arrest has been reported to the state and he is suspended without pay from his position as a security guard.
Investigators said the items, which were specific to the group’s worship service, were left in a conference room overnight for a later worship service. Police said Baker spat and wrote anti-Semitic writings in their most sacred symbol of Jewish faith, the Torah. Authorities said musical instruments and prayer books were also destroyed.