Man with swastika tattoo accused of taping razor blade to church handrail

Benjamin Brower Jr, 30, was arrested after police in Altoona, Pennsylvania, recognised a large swastika tattoo on his chest

Bevan Hurley
Friday 15 September 2023 20:32 BST
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A suspect identified by a “large red swastika tattoo” on his chest was arrested for allegedly taping a razor blade to a handrail at a Salvation Army Church in Pennsylvania, police say.

Benjamin Burton Brower Jr, 30, attached a three-inch blade to a handrail on steps leading to the front door of the church in Altoona, Blair County, on Sunday afternoon, the Altoona Police Department said in a statement.

“APD officers were dispatched to the Salvation Army Church, 1813 6th Ave, after Brower was seen on surveillance cameras taping razor blades to the hand railing at the church entrance,” the Altoona police said.

“Brower was shirtless during the incident and identified by a large red swastika tattoo on his chest.”

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by WTAJ, Mr Brower was seen walking onto church grounds at around 3pm on Sunday wearing red shorts and an open vest exposing his swastika tattoo with a green camouflage backpack.

He then retrieved several items from the bag and taped the blade, with the sharp side up, to a metal handrail.

Benjamin Burton Brower Jr, 30, was arrested for taping a razor blade to a hand railing at the Salvation Army Church in Blair County, Pennsylvania
Benjamin Burton Brower Jr, 30, was arrested for taping a razor blade to a hand railing at the Salvation Army Church in Blair County, Pennsylvania (Altoona Police Department)

The church holds public services at 10.30am, Sunday school at 11.30am and provides free meals to the community at a 4.30pm soup kitchen.

The razor was removed by the church pastor at around 5.15pm, and no one was injured.

Swastikas are widely recognised as symbols of hate, antisemitism and white supremacy.

Mr Brower was arraigned on charges of aggravated assault, institutional vandalism at a place of worship, recklessly endangering another person, and other offences on Wednesday, police said.

He is being held at Blair County Jail on $10,000 bail.

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