Macon Michael Openshaw made his first court appearance in federal court Thursday. He’s facing four felony counts related to shooting at a synagogue last winter.
“It’s essentially a hate crime,” says assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos Esqueda.
Just what would motivate Openshaw to attack a synagogue is mystifying.
“It's a total, total shock,” says his grandmother who did not want to be identified.
Last winter someone fired at the windows of the congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City.
"We've always felt safe in our community and it's unfortunate that a single individual person did something that we hoped wouldn't happen in our community,” says Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman.”But we really love the community that we're part of.”
In federal court Thursday, prosecutors claim they uncovered evidence that shows this is a hate crime.
"That evidence will come out at trial and it will support the elements of the crime of damaging religious property,” says Esqueda.
But any hatred towards the Jewish faith comes as a complete surprise to Openshaw's grandmother.
“People only want to hear the bad and I don't have anything bad to say about him,” says the grandmother.
Openshaw remains jailed and a trial date has been set for January. According to the federal judge, a conviction could lead to a minimum mandatory sentence of ten years to life.