A fraternity house at George Washington University was vandalized over the weekend, including desecration of a Torah scroll, according to the university and Tau Kappa Epsilon.
“Our entire chapter is outraged and saddened by this blatant act of antisemitism and violence against our brothers,” the fraternity said in a statement Sunday evening.
Chapter President Chris Osborne told CNN by phone the house was broken into while members were away and the damage was discovered early Sunday. “There was laundry detergent dumped on religious texts, specifically a Jewish Torah,” he said.
“We believe it was an act of anti-Semitism,” Osborne told CNN. “There was a Christian Bible and a Jewish Torah in the room, and only the Jewish Torah was vandalized. I believe it was a hate crime.”
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is investigating the incident as a suspected hate crime with an “Anti-Jewish” hate bias or motivation, according to a police report provided on Monday.
One of the fraternity members reported that he returned home between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. Sunday to find that a number of items – including the Torah, kitchen cabinets, a smoke detector and wiring – had been damaged or destroyed by an unknown person, while another resident was asleep upstairs.
The fraternity house does not have a security system, and entry into the home was not forced, according to the report.
A statement from the president of George Washington University (GWU), which is located in Washington, DC, said campus police and the DC Metropolitan Police Department are investigating.
“I want to be clear: I condemn all such acts of antisemitism and all forms of hatred, discrimination, and bias in our community,” said President Thomas LeBlanc. “Any act of antisemitism is an attack on the entire GW community and cannot, and will not, be tolerated.”
The university’s police department has increased patrols in the area around around the house, LeBlanc said in a message to the university community. Several staff members are staying in the house, according to the president.
Osborne said about a quarter of his TKE fraternity chapter is Jewish, roughly mirroring the population of GWU, according to a college guide from the Jewish student organization Hillel.
The fraternity asked the local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to look into the incident.
“Very disturbed to learn about this hateful incident that took place overnight at the TKE fraternity house on GWU’s campus,” the ADL tweeted, along with a photo of the damaged Torah, torn and covered in blue liquid. “We’ve spoken with students & reached out to campus PD. We expect a full & rapid investigation.”
CNN’s Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.