Man arrested in New York Islamic center firebomb attack
A man hurled crude firebombs at an Islamic cultural center in part because he wasn’t allowed to use its bathrooms and targeted four other New York-area sites on New Year’s Day because of personal grievances, a law enforcement official said.
The 40-year-old man, of Guyanese descent, was taken into custody Tuesday after he was tracked through a stolen car with Virginia license plates believed to be at the scene of at least two of the attacks Sunday evening on a convenience store, three homes and the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation cultural center, police said.
The man, Ray Lazier Lengend, who allegedly confessed to a string of arson attacks at the Islamic cultural center and four other sites on New Year’s Day, was arrested Tuesday on a hate crime charge, police said.
The charges included one count of arson as a hate crime, four counts of arson and five counts of criminal possession of a weapon, police said.
Lengend, who lives in Queens, was taken to a hospital for a psychiatric examination Tuesday night. He remained in custody and couldn’t be reached for comment. A man who answered a telephone call at Lengend’s home said he would not give out any information over the phone and hung up. There was no information on whether Lengend had a lawyer.
Lengend made statements implicating himself in the attacks and had personal problems with each location, New York Police Department chief spokesman Paul Browne said.
Two of the targets were homes in Queens, and one was a relative’s home in neighboring Nassau County.
Lengend had prior arrests for drugs, passing bad checks and weapons possession.
Authorities believe Lengend was kicked out of the convenience store on Dec. 27 for trying to steal a glass Starbucks Frappuccino bottle and milk. Four of the five crude firebombs thrown at the various locations were made from glass Starbucks bottles, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said earlier Tuesday. The fifth likely was made from a beer bottle.
Witnesses reported the suspect made threats as he was escorted out, Kelly said.
“When they were pushing him out of the store, he said words to the effect that, ‘We’re going to get even. We’re going to get back at you,’” Kelly said.
No one was injured in any of the attacks, which wrought little or no damage at most of the sites.