Unexpected arrest in bias probe at LI church

September 5, 2009 5:19:02 PM PDT
Police arrested one man in connection with a pair of hate crimes against Hispanics. The suspect is also Hispanic. The hate crimes took place at a church in Patchogue, Long Island that's also where a rally took place today.

Soon after 25 year old Christian Garcia was led off to jail Saturday morning -- charged in connection with a hate crime -- a group of city religious leaders joined State Senator Ruben Diaz outside Evangelica Refugio de Salvacion in Patchogue.

"To have this kind of incident here is unacceptable," Sen. Diaz (D) said.

The 25-year-old suspect is accused of leaving anti-Hispanic notes on the altar of the Patchogue church earlier this week.

However, he was arrested late Friday night. Suffolk County police say Garcia threw a wooden log and a glass bottle at a churchgoer.

"The parishioners captured someone in the woods behind the church," said Det. Sgt. Robert Reecks, Suffolk County Police Department.

Police say it was Garcia, a man who parishioners say attended the church in the past, but they insist he wasn't a member, despite reports that he'd been kicked out for misbehaving.

While members of the congregation welcome the arrest for these hate crimes, they question if police arrested the right right man.

" I don't believe the guy arrested is responsible?Let's see if with the arrest everything stops," said Sen. Diaz.

The church is just steps away from where Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero was stabbed to death last fall.

The church pastor says people are afraid -- including the children.

This arrest isn't going to change that.

WEB PRODUCED BY: Lakisha Bostick

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