A 29-year-old man has been charged with hate crimes in connection with a vandalism spree at four synagogues in the Bronx neighborhood of Riverdale over the past several days.
Jordan Burnette, who lives in the neighborhood, is charged with burglary as a hate crime and “numerous charges related to the acts of vandalism as hate crimes that have taken place in this community,” Jessica Corey, commanding officer of the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force, said Sunday.
The investigation is ongoing. Corey declined to confirm whether a motive had been established.
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Windows and doors had been shattered in repeated attacks at the Chabad of Riverdale, Riverdale Jewish Center, Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel and Young Israel of Riverdale, WNBC reported.
Last week, officers stationed in front of Riverdale Jewish Center failed to deter another visit from the suspect, who was seen on security video hurling rocks at the rear glass doors of the building on Monday.
On Saturday, officers on patrol around 3 a.m. spotted Burnette riding a bicycle against the flow of traffic on Delafield Avenue at West 246th Street and tried to issue him a ticket.
Burnette became uncooperative and refused to provide proper identification, Corey said, so officers took him into custody and brought him to the 50th Precinct station for questioning.
Burnette matched the description of the suspect wanted in the attacks on Jewish centers, so officers returned to survey the area and found a van with a broken windshield. Police said security video from a nearby home showed Burnette throwing a rock at the van after leaving the nearby parking lot of Adath Israel.
Officers found a prayer book that had been shredded on the ground at the synagogue and an open shed that contained bicycles. The synagogue caretaker told police that a bicycle stolen from the shed matched the one Burnette was riding when he was arreted, Corey said.
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Resources from the counterterrorism bureau had been assigned to guard synagogues in the area and other houses of worship, John Miller, NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, said at a news conference Sunday.
Detectives with the hate crimes unit took the lead on conducting surveillance to help zero in on the suspect.
“I think that this will bring a great sense of relief to that community,” Miller said of the arrest and charges. “Hopefully, life will resume back to normal and people will be able to worship without fear.”