Teens accused of defacing Jewish Center

April 11, 2008 8:31:42 PM PDT
Three teenage girls are under arrest, accused of defacing a Jewish Center in Yorktown Heights. Police say 18-year-old Barbara Nokaj, 17-year-old Michelle Bushell and a 15-year-old juvenile broke into the Mohegan Park Jewish Center in Lake Mohegan Thursday night and extensively damaged the interior.

The trio allegedly destroyed religious property, including a model Torah scroll, a Menorah and memorial plaques. A swastika was also painted.

The teens are charged with third-degree burglary.

County Executive Andy Spano issued the following statement:

"We have zero-tolerance for these kinds of acts of hatred and bigotry. Every time I hear of one of these incidents, it's a reminder anew of how vigilant we have to be in addressing each and every such incident. Young and old must understand how unacceptable this is. And this must be accomplished by both education and criminal prosecution, when appropriate. The executive director of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission stands ready to assist the community."

A witness who was walking in the area observed a suspicious vehicle in front of the building and allegedly observed the defendants, who subsequently fled the scene.

The witness contacted police and provided infomation that led to the identification of the vehicle involved.

Authorities say the suspects voluntarily appeared at police headquarters for questioning and were later arrested.

A rally has been scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 13 at 1688 Decatur Road in Lake Mohegan (East of Lexington Avenue, between Route 6 and Route 202) to, in the words of organizers, "join as a community to affirm respect for members of all religions, and to present a united front against bigotry and hatred."