A former officer from the New York Police Department has been arrested on hate crime charges for allegedly spray-painting anti-Semitic graffiti on cars and buildings in a Brooklyn neighborhood with a large Jewish presence.
The suspect, identified as 36-year-old Michael Setiawan, was arrested before dawn Sunday after police received a 911 call about the swastikas and other anti-Semitic vandalism in Borough Park, according to The Associated Press.
Setiawan, an NYPD officer serving in Brooklyn's 69th precinct in the Canarsie neighborhood until 2007, faces charges of criminal mischief and aggravated harassment, both as hate crimes.
The man, who lives in Queens, was accused of spray-painting anti-Semitic messages on 15 vehicles and four buildings near a Jewish synagogue and school run by the ultra-Orthodox Bobov community.
"Hate is not a Brooklyn value, and I repudiate any lowlife individual who would spread their prejudiced invective," Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former NYPD officer, told New York Daily News.
An image from a surveillance camera outside the elementary school shows a man spray-painting the front doors, although police have not confirmed the man in the picture is Setiawan, according to NBC.
Setiawan moved to the United States with his parents from Indonesia in 1989.
The suspect's father, Thomas Setiawan, said he received a call from police early Sunday. Soon, a detective arrived to arrest his son.
"I asked my son, 'What's wrong? What happened? Is anybody hurt?'" the father told AP. "He said 'No, don't worry, nobody's hurt.'"
The elder Setiawan said his son had asked him for the keys to the car Saturday evening.
State Assemblyman Dov Hikind said it's a serious crime. "This was not a victimless crime," Hikind, who represents the area, was quoted as saying. "We have many Holocaust survivors here, many elderly people and children who are appropriately frightened by unprovoked hate attacks upon their schools and community. ... Hate attacks on our community will not go unpunished."
City Councilman David Greenfield also said the incident has traumatized the community. "I had a parent who came to me who told me that his daughter who lives across the street and attends this school said that she's afraid to attend the school on Monday," he was quoted as saying.
The elder Setiawan said his son was depressed and suicidal ever since he left the police force. His son didn't tell the family why he left the force after serving just for two year, except for telling them, "I want to quit."