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Accused firebomber denied bail

Ray Lengend (c.) is escorted out of the 103rd Precinct after he was arrested for allegedly bombing the Imam al-Kohei Islamic Center. AP Photo-Jogn Minchillo
TimesLedger Newspapers

The man accused of firebombing a Jamaica mosque and four other places in southeast Queens and Long Island was ordered last week to be held behind bars for the time being and prosecutors say his remanding was necessary to protect society.

Ray Lengend, 40, of Queens Village, was still being kept at Bellevue Hospital’s psych ward as of press time Tuesday following his arrest and arraignment on 18 criminal counts, including arson as a hate crime, for his alleged New Year’s Day attacks, according to court records.

The suspect was arraigned via teleconference from the hospital last Thursday but spoke little as a judge ordered him to be held without bail until his next court hearing Jan 19.

Assistant District Attorney David Jeffries, however, said the unemployed man opened up to the police about the reasons he supposedly threw several Molotov cocktails at four buildings during a two-hour spree, including the Imam Al-Kohei Islamic Center, the largest Shiite mosque in the state.

Lengend, who is of Guyanese descent but not a Muslim, told detectives at the 103rd Precinct that he hated all Muslims because they were “trying to take over his life,” according to the prosecutor.

“They have been doing it for 40 years,” he told the detectives, according to the criminal complaint.

Lengend allegedly concocted a plan to strike the mosque, at 89-89 Van Wyck Expwy., and hurt as many worshipers as possible, but complications changed his plan, according to the criminal complaint.

Around 5 p.m. that evening, he drove to a gas station in a stolen rental car a few blocks from the mosque, bought five glass Frappuccino bottles and received three more for free from the store, prosecutors said. He allegedly dumped the coffee and filled up the bottles with gas, according to the complaint.

He pulled up to the mosque but was hesitant to throw the explosives at its entrance because he saw there was a police vehicle, the complaint said. He then drove to a deli at the corner of Hillside Avenue and 179th Street, waited for an hour and threw the explosive device into the store, according to prosecutors.

Lengend fled the scene and headed back to the mosque, where 80 people were worshiping, and threw a Molotov cocktail at the house of worship’s front entrance, the complaint said. He then allegedly drove to a private house near 107th Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard and threw an explosive at the residence and went to his brother-in-law’s home in Elmont, L.I., where he threw another Molotov cocktail that did not explode, according to the complaint.

The suspect drove to a private home at 170th Street and 88th Avenue, which is used as a Hindu temple, and threw a firebomb at the house, prosecutors said.

“It is not hyperbolic for the people to state there was a potential for tremendous carnage,” Jeffries said.

The attacks galvanized the city’s leaders and religious community, who condemned the attacks at the mosque last week.

Sayid Meesem, Al-Kohei’s representative to the United Nations, said the members of the house of worship were glad the NYPD was able to quickly apprehend a suspect, who could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

“They worked efficiently and worked closely with us,” he said.

Meesem said he hopes the unity displayed among the religious groups of different backgrounds will send a strong message to anyone else who wants to inspire hate.

“The support has been tremendous from all quarters,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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