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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – A Miami Beach man upset with his Jewish neighbors after he was evicted from his condo reportedly vowed to burn down the building with “all the f***ing Jews.”
“We do believe that we were minutes away from a potentially deadly situation,” explained Miami Beach Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez.
Witnesses told police that Walter Stolper, 72, had shown aggression toward some of residents and board of directors of his building at 56th Street and Collins Avenue.
CBS4’S Peter D’Oench spoke with Luis Diaz who alerted authorities at the condo about a conversation he had with Stolper.
“He told me he was tired of the association and the Jews in the building and he wanted to do something about it. He said he wanted to burn down the building. At first, I didn’t think he was serious but then I heard him talk about blocking the fire department and their hoses I realized he was serious and I had to do something,” said Diaz.
“I’m a family guy and I have kids and I wouldn’t want anything to happen to them,” he said. “So I contacted the building and they contacted police. I think he needs help. He is a confused older man. I have been his friend for 10 years and I know him because I am a camera technician and have done work for him. At first, I thought he was just angry and venting but I realized it was much more.”
On Friday afternoon, police detectives found a storage room linked Stolper, which contained 28 containers with gasoline, sulfur powder, and potassium nitrate.
“This is an individual that our intelligence unit intercepted with two filled gasoline tanks as he was coming back into the apartment building. Already in the building, he had disposed of eight additional gasoline canisters down the trash chute from the 15th floor,” said Rodriguez.
When officers arrived at the building, they could smell the gas. A resident also complained about the strong odor of gas in the hallways and elevators.
“We received a tip yesterday. He had been acting strangely saying a lot of derogatory comments towards the Jewish community. We later learned there was a pending eviction for him,” said Rodriguez.
Raynell Proctor of Marksman Security told D’Oench one of his security officers also took action after smelling a gasoline odor. “He did smell that odor and he did report it. I feel like he is kind of a hero the way he acted. And he was vigilant.”
Then officers discovered something disturbing in his 15th-floor apartment.
“Inside of the unit, we found Nazi reading material as well as a swastika. This again is a very, very, very dangerous individual. Our detectives also seized two firearms,” said Rodriguez.
Police also said he had purchased two electrical fans to fan the flames and cause as much damage as possible. He also purchased padlocks to place on a nearby firehouse to keep firefighters from extinguishing the flames.
Stolper, police say, also destroyed the smoke detector in his condominium, which was hardwired into the building’s fire system.
When asked about the gas in the containers, Stolper told the officers, “I bought the gas to make a small BBQ.”
Stolper was arrested and charged with attempted murder and attempted arson.
Building resident Rafael Solar said, “This is a crazy madman and He has done some stuff before. He has dirtied up the carpet before.”