Suspect Sought For Spraying Anti-Gay Graffiti Around Astoria, Queens

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are hopeful that new surveillance video will help catch a suspect allegedly tagging hateful messages around one Queens community.

One apartment building in Astoria is the suspect’s latest target, its window still smudged where someone tried to wipe off a homophobic slur spray painted across it.

Surveillance video from 5:30 a.m. Tuesday shows the hooded vandal spray paint the glass doors of the building on 18th Street near 27th Avenue.

“It’s disgusting, it is. It’s disgusting,” Astoria resident Eric Leiggi tells CBS2’s Ali Bauman. “It’s sad that that’s still happening.”

Police think the suspect is responsible for tagging at least 17 homophobic phrases around Astoria since December.

Full surveillance video released from NYPD below:

One particular offensive message regarding former President Barack Obama appeared outside State Senator Michael Gianaris’ (D-Queens) office on Newtown Avenue in March — allegedly the suspect’s fourth time there.

“When it happened the first or second time we thought maybe it was just random,” Gianaris said at the time. “When it happened the third or fourth time, even the police had indicated to us they believe it’s a target at this point.”

Many Astoria residents say the hate behind the paint is not reflective of their neighborhood.

“I’ve been here over 20 years and I have never ever seen something like that,” resident Arelis Diaz said.

“I’m personally gay, so I don’t really see much of that anti-gay or prejudice around me,” resident Justin Lewis said. “I feel very comfortable. It’s an outlier, it’s not the norm.”

Police describe the suspect as a roughly 6 foot tall, 200 pound man who was last seen wearing a dark hooded jacket.

Police say the suspect had to know he was being captured on video, as he spray painted right over a sticker that read “smile, you’re on camera.”

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74682). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

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