Ashland Police Respond to Vandalism Incident at Chabad Jewish Center
In a disturbing incident that occurred on December 14, 2023, the Ashland Police Department (APD) responded to a report of vandalism at the Chabad Jewish Center. Video evidence obtained from the scene and surrounding businesses revealed the shocking actions of three individuals. One of them was seen throwing eggs at the center while yelling the hate-filled phrase, “Heil Hitler.”
To ensure the swift identification of the suspects, APD posted the video evidence on social media. Thanks to the power of the online community, the suspects were quickly identified. The primary suspect, Zachary Demarest, an 18-year-old from Corvallis, Oregon, was identified as the person responsible for throwing the eggs and uttering the hateful phrase. Another suspect, Jacob Wilhelm, an 18-year-old from Blackfoot, Idaho, was also identified. The third individual in the video, although identified, was not involved in any criminal activity and will not be named.
Interestingly, at the time of the incident, all three individuals were students at Southern Oregon University (SOU). However, following this reprehensible act, both Demarest and Wilhelm have since been expelled from the university. They had left the area for winter break shortly after the incident was reported, but APD detectives continued their investigation when the new term started and students returned to campus.
In a positive turn of events, Demarest was contacted by APD and was instructed to turn himself in on January 19, 2024. He complied and was subsequently booked into the Jackson County Jail. Demarest now faces charges of Criminal Mischief 3rd Degree (Class C Misdemeanor) and Bias Crime 2nd Degree (Class A Misdemeanor).
On the same day, Wilhelm was also contacted by APD and charged with Bias Crime 2nd Degree and Criminal Mischief 3rd Degree, via a misdemeanor criminal citation. He has a court date scheduled for February 7, 2024. Wilhelm’s involvement in the incident consisted of encouraging Demarest’s criminal behavior, making him responsible as a co-conspirator.
The Ashland Police Department expressed its gratitude to Southern Oregon University for their cooperation and assistance throughout the investigation. They emphasized their commitment to thoroughly investigating all complaints of bias crime and working closely with the Jackson County District Attorney’s office to ensure the prosecution of these individuals to the fullest extent possible.
This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of combating hate crimes and promoting tolerance and understanding within our communities. The Ashland Police Department will continue to prioritize the safety and well-being of all residents and will not tolerate any form of discrimination or prejudice.
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