Cops identify suspect who allegedly vandalized Rego Park Jewish Center with swastika drawing

Photo courtesy of the NYPD

Police have identified a suspect they believe to have drawn a swastika onto the Rego Park Jewish Center last week.

The hate symbol, scribbled onto a sign outside of the synagogue, located at 97-30 Queens Blvd., was drawn by a man police believe to be between the ages of 20 and 30 on Wednesday, Feb. 17, around 10:50 a.m., according to the NYPD.

After vandalizing the sign with a marker, the man fled on foot in a unknown direction, cops said.

The anti-Semitic drawing prompted an immediate response from lawmakers.

Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to aid in the investigation as Congresswoman Grace Meng joined state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz in condemning the anti-Semitic act of vandalism.

“There is absolutely no room for this kind of hatred in our community,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “We have consulted with the NYPD, and are confident that the perpetrator behind this cowardly offense will be found, and will face justice.”

City Council candidate Avi Cyperstein headed to the house of worship shortly after the incident to scrub the swastika off the sign.

City Council candidate Avi Cyperstein removes a swastika scrawled outside the Rego Park Jewish Center in the latest bias incident to plague the borough. (Courtesy of Cyperstein’s campaign)

“The neighborhood has been scarred by hate before and this pattern must end immediately,” Cyperstein said. “Nobody should have to experience or witness anti-Semitic marks anywhere in the world, especially in the most diverse borough of New York City, Queens.”

The anti-Semitic incident follows a surge in hate crime incidents, particularly against Asian Americans, in the borough.

Last week, police arrested Patrick Mateo, 47, after he allegedly shoved a 52-year-old Asian woman while walking in downtown Flushing on Tuesday, Feb. 16, according to the NYPD. The woman needed 10 stitches to sew up a cut she sustained during the fall.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards condemned the rise in hate crimes and called on the continued efforts of the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force, the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes and the New York City Commission on Human Rights to put an end to the racist incidents.

“These disgusting acts of anti-Asian and anti-Semitic hate were reprehensible, and those who committed them should be held accountable to the fullest extent possible,” Richards said. “Queens residents should also be vigilant in reporting and speaking out against such acts of hatred and in showing support for our neighbors when they are attacked. None of us should ever be made to feel unsafe or unwelcome in our own community.”

Anyone with information in regard to the identity of the suspect is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com, or on Twitter @NYPDTips.

More from Around New York