NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are searching for a woman seen on video setting a flag on fire outside a Hindu temple in Queens.
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is now investigating, CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reported Wednesday.
The disturbing video shows the moment the unidentified suspect lights a flag on fire near the entrance of Shri Tulshi Mandir temple on 111th Street in South Richmond Hill.
Police said it happened last Thursday at around 7:30 p.m. The woman is seen igniting the flag before running off. People who visit the place of worship said they were horrified by what happened.
“I’m shocked about it. I mean, it’s a religious place,” Errol Geerwar said.
The task force investigating whether the incident constitutes a hate crime. Geerwar said if so, it’s devastating.
“I hope it’s not a hate crime. It would be terrible if it was with all the stuff that’s going on in the world today. If it is today, it’s very sad,” Geerwar said.
Other worshippers agree.
“It’s a lovely neighborhood. I come here sometimes, meet nice people. The pundit is a very pleasant person, very helpful. The whole setup is nice,” a man named Roy said.
They said more needs to be done to combat hate in general.
“Parents should at least reach out to their children, you know? To teach them the right culture, what they are doing right and wrong,” Roy said.
Police said the building was not damaged as a result of the fire.
Anyone with information about the video is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) for Spanish. You can also submit a tip via the Crime Stoppers website, by tweeting @NYPDTips or by texting 274637.