An arrest has been made in the graffiti vandalism of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Elmhurst, City Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) said Thursday night.
Speaking on WABC Radio’s “Rita Cosby Show,” Holden said the suspect is an Elmhurst man police had been eyeing because of distinctive elements in his graffiti.
The NYPD press office said Friday morning that no one has been charged and the investigation is ongoing. But Holden, speaking by phone early Friday afternoon, said that was likely a matter of police getting their ducks in a row and not wanting to jeopardize the case in any way. He said two NYPD captains had told him they had their man.
An Elmhurst man, Kristoffer Bahamonde, 41, was charged over the weekend with several acts of graffiti in the area, but not at the memorial [see separate story at qchron.com].
"There was an arrest," Holden said. "I know that because I got it confirmed by two sources before I ever went on the 'Rita Cosby Show.'"
Holden said he has the suspect's name but that police had asked him not to release it yet.
"I just think they don't want it to hurt their investigation," he said.
An email reviewed by the Queens Chronicle indicates that a person of interest had been detained at the 110th Precinct and that, at the time the message was written, officers were waiting for hate crimes detectives to arrive.
The memorial in Elmhurst Park was defaced with messages including “baby killers” and “God sucks d---,” along with swastikas and the numbers 110. The location is within the 110th Precinct. The damage was discovered Wednesday.
Holden said the alleged perpetrator also vandalized Hoffmann Park, located at the corner of Queens and Woodhaven boulevards.
He lamented the graffiti and said he had never seen such political vandalism in the area before. Holden grew up on the Middle Village-Maspeth border and was a longtime civic leader before winning his seat on the Council.
He also noted that a statue of the Virgin Mary had been broken at St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Church in Elmhurst in recent days, pointing out that the sculpture is not directly on the street, that the perpetrator had to go out of his way to damage it. The church is located just a few blocks from the veterans memorial.
He said he had spoken with Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz about the graffiti and that she had said her office “will throw the book” at the perpetrator once he is caught.
Katz could not immediately be reached for comment Friday morning. The District Attorney's Office said it had no information on any arrest.
Holden linked the incidents to what he believes is a general decline in the city’s quality of life under the policies of Mayor de Blasio and an easing up on criminal activity. He said he knows police officers who are retiring earlier than planned because of things like new restrictions on the physical actions they can take when arresting suspects who resist, and that many who remain on the force are more hesitant to engage with people breaking the law because incidents may escalate and result in their suffering consequences.
Holden was speaking with a sympathetic ear on the show. A longtime TV reporter and anchor before recently starting her radio show, Cosby is proudly pro-police and often focuses on the burdens officers face in today’s political climate in her commentary.
This article has been updated to include:
• the Police Department press office's stating that no arrest has been made;
• Councilman Bob Holden's reiteration that one was;
• the Queens District Attorney's Office saying it has no information about an arrest;
• information from an email saying a person of interest has been detained at the 110th Precinct and hate crimes detectives were due to arrive there; and
• the fact that a man has been charged with several other incidents of graffiti in the area.
The headline also was edited to change the word "charged" to "busted."