NY arson attacks suspect is arraigned in hospital

AP News
Posted: Jan 05, 2012 4:19 PM
NY arson attacks suspect is arraigned in hospital

A man accused of fashioning makeshift Molotov cocktails from Frappuccino bottles and hurling them at several locations said he wanted to inflict damage on an Islamic center because Muslims had been trying to take over his life for 40 years, according to court papers released Thursday.

Ray Lazier Lengend was arraigned Thursday on charges of arson as a hate crime and several other counts of arson in the five firebomb attacks on New Year's Day. He appeared groggy and dazed during the hearing via video conference from his bedside at Bellevue Hospital Center. He answered brief "yes" and "OKs."

His attorney did not comment outside court and didn't return a call seeking comment.

No one was injured in the attacks and only one target, a private home, was seriously damaged.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Lengend filled the bottles with gasoline and set out in a stolen Buick.

He lobbed one bottle over the counter at a convenience store, threw two at the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation, and one at a house used as a Hindu temple, prosecutors said. One cracked through a window at a private home and did serious damage, and he also threw one that didn't ignite at the home of his brother-in-law, they said.

Lengend, 40, from Guyana, gave investigators a variety of reasons, all personal, for targeting the various locations, authorities said. For example, he'd been kicked out by the first target, the convenience store, a few days earlier for trying to shoplift a carton of milk and a Frappuccino bottle and came back for revenge, according to papers.

The Imam Al-Khoei Foundation was targeted in part because he once wasn't allowed to use the bathroom there, authorities said.

He later made broad anti-Muslim statements and said he wanted to inflict as much damage as possible and "take out" as many Arabs and Muslims as possible by throwing as many firebombs at the center as possible, according to the court papers. About 80 worshippers were gathered there at the time.

Authorities said Lengend went there first, but was scared away by police, and returned later after hitting three other targets. He told authorities he ended up tossing only one at the center. A small fire broke out and caused mild smoke damage to the front entrance.

University Corruption
Walter E. Williams

Another target, a private home in Elmont, Nassau County, belonged to his brother-in-law. He had a beef with someone at the Hindu house, and thought the other home he vandalized was a drug den, but was mistaken and targeted the wrong location, authorities said. Three children and at least two adults were inside when the curtains caught fire and damaged the home.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Thursday authorities were also investigating claims by Lengend that he also tried to target a Jeep and two other homes.

"He had a variety of motives that he stated," Kelly said. "He's all over the lot and obviously his mental capacity is being examined now."

Lengend remained at Bellevue Hospital Center under surveillance and was not free to leave.