Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards announced the arrest Wednesday morning, July 25, 2012 of Tyler Cole Spencer, age 18, of Linden, Tennessee for numerous charges related to Ethnic Intimidation at Camp Bonim, a Jewish Summer Camp located in Waymart, PA.
The Affidavit of Probable Cause filed by Pennsylvania State Trooper John D. Decker alleges that Spencer along with two other adults and two juveniles entered Camp Bonim on three separate occasions on July 14, 2012 and July 15, 2012 in Spencer’s white, dual-wheeled Ford F- 350 pickup truck.
While at the camp, Spencer travelled at a high rate of speed through the camp, damaging fields, yards, buildings and fences, and shooting a paint ball gun at campers. Spencer and his accomplices were yelling racial epithets at the campers and staff during all three episodes. They endangered the lives of numerous young campers; narrowly missing several campers and staff, according to the camp’s caretaker
Camp Bonim is a Jewish religious boys’ camp of nearly 400 campers. It adheres to an ultra-orthodox religious commitment. The camp combines Yeshiva study with the normal fun occurring in any summer camp. In particular, staff and boys come from such schools such as Yeshiva Darchei Torah located in Far Rockaway, NY and Yeshiva Torah Vadath located in Brooklyn, NY. As a consequence, staff and boys stand out as different from the average camper because of their traditional Jewish religious clothing and appearance.
The alleged perpetrators also pulled out the camp’s roadside mailbox. Later that evening, the truck arrived at the camp again, doing “doughnuts” in fields and causing more property damage, again narrowly missing campers and staff as it raced around.
The truck arrived yet again at around 2:30 the following morning, this time pulling up next to a group of campers, its occupants allegedly yelling ethnic slurs “such as ‘F*** you Jews’ and ‘You f***ing Jews go back where you came from,’” according to the police complaint.
Allegedly, during this third incident the occupants of the truck fired multiple shots from a pistol-style paintball gun, striking one camper in the leg and neck and narrowly missing several others.
At about 7:30 a.m. July 17, 2012, PSP Honesdale was contacted by New York State Police, which located a truck matching the description of the assailants’ F-350 broken down along State Route 97 near Hancock, N.Y.
According to the New York troopers, the occupants of the truck admitted to a tow truck driver that they were responsible for the Camp Bonim crimes and that they “ran over a guy at Turkey Hill,” as stated in the police affidavit. The New York trooper also advised PSP a paintball gun and baseball bat were found in the truck.
The three adults involved in the incident — 18-year-old Tyler Cole Spencer of Linden, Tenn., Mark Trail, 21, from Bethany and Cassandra Robertson, 18, of Honesdale, were all arrested and arraigned on numerous felony and misdemeanor charges.
Spencer was charged with numerous felonies and misdemeanors including Institutional Vandalism, Riot, Terroristic Threats, Criminal Trespass, Criminal Mischief, Stalking, Simple Assault, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Disorderly Conduct, and Ethnic Intimidation. Spencer was also charged with Criminal Mischief for damage to the grounds of R.D. Wilson School in Canaan Township.
Spencer had previously been charged with Aggravated Assault by the Honesdale Borough Police for an incident that occurred on July 16, 2012 at a local Turkey Hill when Spencer allegedly hit a camp counselor with the F-350 and then fled the scene.
District Attorney Edwards stated that she was appalled by the allegations in this case. “These children were terrorized and in fear for their lives by the actions of this group. The vicious, cruel and obscene nature of the language hurled at the campers is unspeakable. Luckily none of the children suffered any serious physical injury; however the emotional damage done is immeasurable. This is outrageous conduct and will not be tolerated.”
In the court proceeding, an orange-clad, shackled Spencer and his two adult alleged co-conspirators were arraigned before Magistrate Judge Theodore Mikulak on charges stemming from the Camp Bonim incidents. The judge set Spencer’s bail at $200,000.00. Spencer’s alleged adult accomplices Mark Trail, age 21, and Cassandra Robertson, age 18, were also arrested on charges similar to those lodged against Spencer. Their bail was set at $20,000.00 each. Juvenile Petitions were also filed against a 17 year old and a 16 year old.
According to another PSP affidavit, Trail and one of the juveniles related events largely corroborating the first affidavit, adding that the group was also responsible for damage caused at the R.D. Wilson Elementary School outside Waymart.
The second affidavit also attests Trail says the group was joined by “a guy named Brian,” when they decided to “F*** up the Jewish camp.”
“They were just a hair away from causing serious physical injury,” Edwards said in response to a question from the press following Wednesday’s arraignments, “They didn’t, but we’re not taking this as fun and games in any way.”
Edwards thanked the Pennsylvania State Police, the Honesdale Borough Police, the New York State Police and the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office for their excellent work in this case.
A video of activities at Camp Bonim in 2010 can be seen by pressing here.
A video of religious studies and other camp activities at Camp Bonim in 2011 can be seen by pressing here.