A Queens Village man has been indicted on state and federal charges for allegedly firebombing five buildings, two of them houses of worship, in Queens on New Year’s Day.
Ray Lazier Lengend, 40, is accused of throwing Molotov cocktails at a deli at 179th Street and Hillside Avenue; a private residence at 146-62 107th Ave.; the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center, a mosque located at 89-89 Van Wyck Expressway; a house, previously used as a Hindu temple at 88-20 170th St. — all in Jamaica; and a house at 111-11 43 Ave. in Corona.
Lengend, also known as Suraj Poonai, allegedly told police that his plan was “to inflict as much damage as possible and take out as many Muslims and Arabs as possible,” according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
Lengend is facing 36 state charges including arson as a hate crime, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child. If convicted of the most serious count — first-degree arson as a hate crime, Lengend faces 25 years to life in prison.
The charges were announced March 19.
“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,” Queens DA Richard Brown said in a prepared statement. “When they do, regrettably, occur they will be condemned swiftly and those responsible will be brought to justice.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, in an indictment announced the same day, charged Lengend with a hate crime through use of fire and explosives, a hate crime through damaging religious property, causing damage by fire and explosives and using fire and explosives to commit a felony— all for the alleged attack on the mosque.
He is being also being charged with a hate crime through the use of fire and explosives, using fire an explosives to commit a felony and causing damage by fire and explosives for the alleged attack on the Hindu temple. If convicted of all charges, Lengend faces 20 years to life in prison.
“Violence directed against individuals or groups because of their demographic identity is an affront to the Constitution and a crime,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Jan Fedarcyk said in a prepared statement. “The FBI is committed to protecting and preserving the rights of all Americans, including the free exercise of one’s chosen religion.”