Church statue vandalized in Fresh Meadows, cops seek cab driver as part of hate crime investigation: NYPD

The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force and police from the 107th Precinct are searching for a yellow cab driver who vandalized a church statue early Sunday morning.
Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Brooklyn

The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is looking for a yellow cab driver who allegedly vandalized a religious statue in front of a Fresh Meadows church early Sunday morning.

A surveillance camera at the front of the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church captured video of the cabbie pulling over at 175-20 74th Ave. at 5:30 a.m. and walking straight to the Holy Family statues, where he allegedly carried out a “hateful act of vandalism,” according to the Diocese of Brooklyn, which oversees Queens Catholic parishes.

The suspect allegedly took off his shoe and proceeded to use it to decapitate the Child Jesus statue with multiple blows. The white marble head was later found on the ground near the statue. The damage is estimated at $20,000, and the parish is looking to repair the statue.

The statue has been part of the Holy Family parish for more than 42 years. The statues of Mary and Joseph, which stand with the Child Jesus statue, were targeted but not damaged during the act of violence.

Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Brooklyn

“The Holy Family is the foundation of our faith community, and this statue holds special meaning to so many in our parish,” said Father Sean Suckiel, the parish Pastor. “This is a very unsettling incident, and those who attended [Sunday] Mass were shocked and horrified to find out this happened.”

Police from the 107th Precinct in Fresh Meadows responded to the scene and classified the incident as a hate crime. The same church was targeted by vandals in March 2023 when three young men snatched a statue of an angel and smashed it into the street, causing it to break apart. The damage was estimated at $500.

“We must pray for an increase in religious tolerance throughout our city,” Fr. Suckiel said.

After the driver vandalized the statue Sunday, he walked back to his SUV and drove away from the crime scene. No injuries were reported and there have been no arrests, police said. The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the criminal mischief incident.

The church’s surveillance footage captured the vandal who damaged the statue. Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Brooklyn

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, or on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) @NYPDTips. All calls and messages are kept confidential.

Through June 30, the 107th Precinct has reported 2 hate crimes so far in 2024, 14 fewer than the 16 reported at the same point last year, a decline of 87.5%, according to the most recent CompStat report.