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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – A man accused of plotting to burn down a condominium building in Miami Beach will remain behind bars for now.
A judge denied him bond at his first court appearance, which took place Saturday.
Police say that man was upset with his Jewish neighbors after learning he was about to be evicted.
“I think there’s sufficient evidence here that not only did he have the means to do this but that he was doing it specifically to kill Jewish people,” Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Teresa Mary Pooler said in court.
72-yr-old Walter Stolper’s plans were ruined after police say they found 28 containers of gasoline, sulfur powder, and potassium nitrate inside his building, stashed right under the homeowners’ nose.
“He has a relationship with the, as I understand it, with the actual owner of the apartment so in turn he had access to an exclusive storage room inside the building, so it’s our belief that the defendant had exclusive access to this room,” said Miami Beach police chief Dan Oates.
Police say they stopped the man on Thursday as he was going into his condo at 5601 Collins Avenue with two tanks of gasoline.
“Already in the building he had disposed of eight additional gas canisters down the trash chute from the 15th floor,” said Ernesto Rodriguez with Miami Beach police. “We were minutes away from a potentially deadly situation.”
Police credit Stolper’s friend Luis Diaz for turning him in after the two shared what Diaz described as a strange phone conversation.
Stolper reportedly said he was going to “burn down the building with all of the [expletive] Jews.”
“He told me he was tired of the association and the Jews in the building and he wanted to do something about it,” Diaz said.
Police had also received a tip that Stolper was making derogatory comments about Jewish people because he was being evicted. He lived on the 15th floor.
“Inside of the unit we found Nazi reading material as well as a swastika,” said Rodriguez. “He is a very, very, very dangerous individual and our detectives also seized two firearms.”
Ray Proctor with Marksman Security says one of his officers also took action as residents complained of a strong odor of gas in the hallways and elevator.
“I feel like it was a heroic action,” Proctor said of his officer. “He took action like he’s contracted to do. It’s a wonderful thing that he was being vigilant.”
When asked why he bought the gas, Stolper reportedly said “to make a small barbecue.”
Police say Stolper also destroyed the fire detector that was hardwired in to the fire system and purchased electrical fans help the fire spread and grow.
Records show Stolper has not been arrested before.