John Minchillo/ASSOCIATED PRESS
New York police arrest Ray Lengend, accused of throwing incendiary devices at an Islamic cultural center and four other New York-area sites on New Year's Day.
New York police arrest Ray Lengend, accused of throwing incendiary devices at an Islamic cultural center and four other New York-area sites on New Year's Day. John Minchillo/ASSOCIATED PRESS
New York police have arrested 40 year old Ray Lengend in connection with five firebombings on New Year's Day, including one on the Al-Khoei Center center as about 80 people were gathered inside. No one was hurt, but the victims all appeared to be ethnic or religious minorities and there was concern that they'd been specifically marked.
Police say Lengend has implicated himself in the firebombing attacks, according to the New York Times (paywall). While victims wondered why they'd been targeted, the report says the suspect may have acted out of revenge. The first site hit on New Year's Day was a corner convenience store, owned by an immigrant from Yemen. The owner says a few days earlier, he'd stopped Lengend from shoplifting.
The next attack was against the Al-Khoei Foundation, an Islamic cultural center, where dozens of people were meeting inside. Several reports, including by AP, say Lengend was reportedly infuriated because he had once been denied the chance to use the bathroom there.
A private home that suffered severe firebomb damage was apparently struck by mistake, according to Newsday. The suspect allegedly was angry at a drug dealer and wanted to retaliate: he got the street right but apparently got the house wrong when throwing the firebomb.
Another private home that doubles as a Hindu temple was hit later that night because the suspect allegedly had a years-old disagreement with someone he thought was inside, says CBS. And a third home, owned by an Indian family, was targeted because the suspect reportedly had argued with them.
Lengend, who's jailed, will receive psychiatric tests. He faces several charges, including arson and a count of arson as a hate crime. The Times says the hate crime charge was added because the suspect made several anti-Muslim statements after he was arrested and may have attempted a broader attack against the Islamic center.