|The older brother of a man believed to have twice set fire to the Chabad Center for Jewish Life Arlington-Belmont on Lake Street in May 2019 has been indicted on suspicion of having obstructed the investigation. US Attorney Rachael Rollins jointly announced the indictment with Arlington Police Chief Julie Flaherty and other law enforcement officials at a press conference February 16.|
Late in the evening on Saturday, May 11, 2019, a fire was set at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life Arlington-Belmont, which is also home to the center’s director and co-founder, Rabbi Avi Bukiet and his family, which includes his three young children. Five days later on May 16, 2019, a second fire was set. At the time, Chief Flaherty described the attacks as a “direct assault on our community.”
Arlington Police Department Lieutenant Bryan Gallagher, Sergeant Edward DeFrancisco and Inspector James Smith were directly involved in the multi-jurisdictional investigation for which leads were chased “around the world,” Flaherty said in a statement issued after the press conference.
“These crimes shook our community to its core, and it is my sincere hope that the international teamwork of American and Swedish authorities that has solved this series of hate crimes will provide some measure of solace to the victims,” said Chief Flaherty, adding that she was proud of the Arlington Police Department’s role in the investigation.
Alexandar Giannakakis, formerly of Quincy and now residing in a suburb of Stockholm, was located after a three-year investigation by local, state, federal, and international authorities. Giannakakis’s younger brother became a prime suspect in the case nine months after the first fire was set. The younger brother was hospitalized in a coma in November 2019 and died 10 months later. Giannakakis’s younger brother was not named in the announcement and additional details about his cause of death were not provided.
A community-wide vigil was held at Arlington Town Hall less than a week after the second attack at the Chabad Center. The event drew 500 people, including Rabbi Bukiet and his family. In a statement issued after the February 16 press conference Rabbi Bukiet expressed “much relief” for the indictment and praised everyone who worked on the investigation, adding that “Chief Flaherty of the Arlington Police Department, the APD and the Arlington Fire Department merit a special thank you.”