Police have got their man.
The NYPD arrested Ray Lazier Lengend, 40, of Queens Village, on Tuesday in connection with a series of firebombings — four in Queens and one in Elmont, LI. — that took place on Sunday between 8 and 10:15 p.m.
Police say that Lengend’s motive was purely revenge. He targeted a bodega owner who had caught him shoplifting, a mosque that refused to let him use the bathroom, and others that he allegedly had beefs with.
He is being charged with one count of arson as a hate crime, four counts of arson and five counts of criminal possession of a weapon. Lengend was taken to a hospital for a psychiatric examination Tuesday night.
Dozens of religious leaders and elected officials took a unified stand against hate at a press conference Tuesday at the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center in Jamaica, one of five locations that were firebombed.
“We have to stand shoulder to shoulder,” said Maan Al Sahlani, an imam at the center. “We have to protect our society. We have to protect the freedom God gives us, the freedom here in the United States of America.”
Lengend allegedly threw Molotov cocktails at homes, a bodega, a Hindu temple and the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center, according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who spoke at the press conference.
One of the witnesses at the bodega, where the first attack occurred, said the assailant had been thrown out of the establishment on Dec. 27 when he tried to steal a container of milk and a bottle of Starbucks’ Frappuccino.
“When he was escorted out of the store he said words to the effect of ‘We’re going to get even. We are going to get back at you,’” Kelly said.
In four of the five attacks, bottles of Starbucks’ Frappuccino were used to make the bombs. Kelly said Lengend, at that time a person of interest, was identified in connection with a car that had Virginia license plates and was at the location of two of the attacks, according to witnesses and surveillance videos.
Although the commissioner said the guilty person would be punished, not everyone in the room was happy with the Police Department’s policies.
“The NYPD in this case is protecting the community, but the NYPD is also accused of random surveillance of that community,” said one attendee, but Kelly did not have a chance to rebut the statement as Muhsin Alialdina, who oversees programming at the mosque, interrupted by saying the statement was inappropriate for the gathering.
Cyrus McGoldrick of the New York Chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations also took a shot at the NYPD and its alleged racial profiling.
“It was only a matter of time before the war abroad became a war at home,” McGoldrick said. “Fearmongering about Islam and other American minorities have ripped this country apart. “Warmongering politicians and willing media confirm this narrative, the warrantless incomprehensive surveillance of the Muslim community by the NYPD confirms this narrative and the destruction of the Constitution in the name of the war on terror confirms this narrative.”
Many of the leaders, however, said that the attacks would only serve to bring people together as they are united against the common evil of bias and hate.
“We are encouraging all New Yorkers to open your hearts with love and compassion, said Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, president of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York, and to see to the needs of these innocent people who had their homes destroyed.”