By Rich Bockmann
A Queens Village man was indicted Monday on hate crime charges in the New Year’s Day firebombing of four buildings, including the borough’s largest mosque in Jamaica, the Queens district attorney’s office announced.
The charges claim 40-year-old Ray Lazier Lengend, of 89-04 215th St., went on an arson spree fueled by his hatred for Muslims, Arabs and Hindus, DA Richard Brown said.
“According to the charges, the defendant endangered scores of people when he allegedly tossed crude firebombs at five buildings during a hate-filled rampage on New Year’s Day,” Brown said. “His alleged targets ranged from private dwellings to houses of worship — endangering those within the buildings as well as the firefighters called to respond to the scene.”
Lengend was charged in a 36-count indictment with arson as a hate crime on the top of a host of charges, according to the DA. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to as much as 25 years in prison.
“Particularly troubling is the fact that the defendant is alleged to have been motivated by hate in at least two of the instances where he is alleged to have struck at a Muslim house of worship and attempted to strike at a second location, which is a Hindu house of worship,” Brown said.
“Hate crimes — whether they be motivated by religion, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender — will not be tolerated here in Queens, the country’s most diverse county. When they do, regrettably, occur, they will be condemned swiftly and those responsible will be brought to justice,” he added.
According to the indictment, in the early evening hours of Jan 1., Lengend drove a stolen rental car from John F. Kennedy International Airport to a gas station near the Van Wyck Expressway service road and Atlantic Avenue, where he filled up five glass coffee bottles with gasoline, the DA said.
Lengend then drove to a deli on the corner of 179th Street and Hillside Avenue, walked inside and allegedly threw one of the flaming glass bottles on the floor, Brown said. Before Lengend ran out of the store and back into the stolen Buick Regal, an employee identified him as the same man he saw the previous week trying to steal a bottle of Starbucks Frappacino and some milk, the DA said.
The employee was able to extinguish the fire, which caused damage to the store’s interior.
Lengend allegedly struck again when he threw another incendiary device through the front bedroom window of a home a few minute’s drive from the deli on 107th Avenue, according to Brown, who said police responded to the scene where they found some of the windows completely missing and fire damage to the building.
He acted a third time when he allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail at the exterior wall of the Al-Khoei Benevolent Association near the Van Wyck Expressway and Hillside Avenue, where witnesses observed two broken glass bottles, two bottle caps and rolled-up tissue paper, the district attorney said.
Lengend was also charged with firebombing two more residences. One, on 170th Street, was also used as a Hindu place of worship, and the other was a private dwelling on 43rd Avenue that was occupied at the time, Brown said.
Lengend allegedly expressed his dislike of Muslims, Arabs and Hindus and admitted to police that he planned to inflict as much damage as possible by throwing all five bottles into the crowd from the Al-Khoei mosque’s balcony, Brown said.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.