NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An arrest was made Tuesday night following an investigation into at least four firebombing incidents in Queens, and a fifth on Long Island, that took place over the weekend.
Police have charged Ray Lazier Lengend of 89-04 215 St., in Queens Village with five counts of criminal possession of a weapon, four counts of arson and one count of arson as a hate crime.
Lengend, 40, was brought out of the 103rd Precinct on Tuesday night in handcuffs and mumbling as he was led to a waiting ambulance, reports CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis. There was no official explanation why Lengend was taken away by ambulance.
The arrest puts and end to a tense investigation that initially looked like it had a confession. However, as CBS 2′s Pablo Guzman reported, police later clarified by saying their suspect had made incriminating statements that implicated him in the arson attacks. However, the district attorney’s investigators and detectives believed his statements were rambling and still had to be confirmed.
Police were able to move on the man they considered a suspect as fast as they did because of what they picked up from surveillance cameras and from what workers in the deli where workers told police about the suspect. They said they had thrown him out twice for shoplifting, so police had a sketch.
Police also knew they were looking for a silver car with Virginia plates. Detectives from the 103rd Precinct made the car late Monday in an area around 207th and Hillside in Jamaica, Queens and staked it out till just before 8 a.m. Tuesday, when a man came to the car. The 40-year-old was cuffed before he got in.
“I’m optimistic this is going to lead to a successful conclusion,” Kelly told Guzman on Tuesday afternoon.
1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports
The suspect has a history of substance abuse problems, and may have been acting out of rage, sources said. His arrest sheet goes back 10 years, sources added, mostly for petty narcotics charges.
“We gotta find out what happened here, but regardless, you’re only as safe as tomorrow,” Mayor Mike Bloomberg said.
WCBS 880′s Alex Silverman Reports On The Confession
“This is a heinous type of crime, particularly with people sleeping in their homes,” Kelly said.
“Crimes of this nature will never be tolerated in Queens,” said District Attorney Richard Brown.
“This is a very sad day for Queens,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “This can not be tolerated.”
Four of Sunday night’s attacks occurred within two hours of each other and took place in Jamaica. They were all within just two miles of each other. Targets included a mosque and a home which houses a Hindu temple.
WCBS 880′s Sean Adams With Community Reaction To The Bombings
Bloomberg met Tuesday morning with the leaders of the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center, which was targeted in one of the attacks. Bloomberg was joined by religious and community leaders in denouncing the attacks.
Ramesh Mahara owns one of the homes that was attacked, where he is also the priest at the Hindu temple inside. He said he was counting his blessings after the attack.
“It fell short of the house. Short of the house, and short of the steps,” Mahara said. “I have nothing against anybody, and I don’t think anybody should have anything against me.”
Ahmed Abdulla owns the first place that was struck, a deli on Hillside Avenue.
“Somebody came through here and they have a bottle… something in it,” Abdulla said, adding that the person threw it into the kitchen.
Classes at the Al-Khoie Islamic Center, which was hit, resumed Tuesday.
“We’re going to address [the students] and address any concerns they may have,” said Syed Messam Razvi. “Of course, this is something very much out of the ordinary.”
Please stay with CBSNewYork.com for more on this developing story.
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