By Allan Lengel
A Queens man was charged with hate crimes and explosive crimes stemming from allegations that allegedly fire bombed a mosque and a Hindu temple housed in a private residence on Jan. 1, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
Ray Lazier Lengend, aka “Suraj Poonai,” was charged with the fire bombing of the Imam Al- Khoei Foundation mosque in Jamaica, Queens, and a Hindu temple housed in a private residence in Hillside, Queens, authorities said.
Authorities alleged that on Jan. 1 Lengend entered a local convenience store located near the intersection of 179th Street and Hillside Avenue in Queens and threw a flaming bottle filled with gasoline.
Authorities said the bottle hit the ground, and liquid spilled out and began to burn. A store employee extinguished the flames, and no one was hurt.
After leaving the convenience store, Lengend headed over to a private residence on 107th Avenue in Queens, where he threw another fire-bomb. This time, the house caught fire, causing substantial damage.
Later, authorities said Lengend went to the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation mosque, where he threw glass bottles containing gasoline at the building with the goal of inflicting damage on the mosque and harming Muslims and Arabs.
Lengend’s final fire-bombing in Queens targeted the Hindu temple inside a home. New York police detectives arrested Lengend two days after the attack.
“Hate crimes offend the very principles upon which this country was founded, and those who engage in such conduct will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This defendant allegedly sought to fan the flames of ethnic and religious tension. Those flames will always be extinguished by the rule of law,” stated U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful to the Queens District Attorney’s Office and the New York City Police Department for their investigation and coordination in this matter.”