GRAVESEND, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A 25-year-old man is facing hate crime charges after police say he shattered several windows of a Brooklyn Jewish center in Brooklyn with a flagpole.
Authorities say Osman Butt then entered the Shore Parkway Jewish Center at 8885 26th Avenue in Gravesend and damaged more property.
It happened just before 9 p.m. Sunday, when Butt allegedly destroyed several menorahs, an elevated platform known as a bima, and symbols of the Sukkot Jewish holiday, which runs from October 2-9.
Neighbors heard him screaming anti-Semitic slurs and called the police.
He was caught in the act inside the Jewish center, police said.
Dr. Allan Perel, the president of the congregation, couldn't believe the damage.
"He took a flagpole like we see here, it was an Israeli flag, and he knocked out every single window in the shul these are 16-foot windows," Perel said.
He said the suspect's blood drops are still on the floor and he estimates the damage to be between $75,000 to $100,000.
"It's devastating, this is a small shul, we don't have that kind of money," Perel said. "Why? Why would you do this, it's a nice place, we welcome people we have classes, we have non-Jews, we try to learn from each other. Why would you do this?"
Rabbi Daniel Sayani said his congregation has a message for the vandal:
"The message we will send is today and going forward is we are here to stay," Sayani said.
Assemblyman William Colton released a statement expressing his outrage over the incident.
"The perpetrator intentionally targeted the house of worship during the holiday of Sukkot," he said. "He broke windows and viciously damaged and destroyed symbols of the Sukkot holiday, which is a very disturbing act of a hate crime. Police were called, and luckily the perpetrator was apprehended while he was still inside. We must condemn any hate crime. An attack on one group is an attack on all of us and we will not allow it."
Butt is charged with burglary and criminal mischief, both as hate crimes.
"Anyone who commits a hate crime must fully be condemned and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Colton said. "Hate crime against any ethnicity is a despicable act and it will not be tolerated. The strength of our neighborhood has always been bringing people together. I will continue to work to bring us together and to ensure that this attack on our neighborhood will not divide us, but will make us stronger and more united than ever."
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