Guyanese man to get 20 years in jail for hate crimes against Muslims in NY

Guyanese Ray Lengend, who fire-bombed mosques throughout southeast Queens, in New York, in 2012, will be sentenced this week for the crimes against Muslims, whom he had claimed were “trying to take over his life,” the TimesLedger newspaper has reported.

Lengend, 45, pleaded guilty to the crimes last week.

Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron is reported by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown as saying that he would sentence Lengend, who is also known as Suraj Poonai, to 20 years and five years post-release supervision for first-degree arson as a hate-crime when he returns to court this Thursday.

“In pleading guilty, the defendant has admitted to carrying out a vicious, hate-filled attack that endangered scores of people,” Brown is quoted as saying in the TimesLedger report. “In a single night, this individual filled glass bottles with gasoline to make crude Molotov cocktails and then tossed them at five buildings. His targets ranged from private dwellings to houses of worship – endangering those within the buildings as well as the firefighters called to respond to the scene. This kind of intolerance and hate will not be tolerated in Queens,” he added.

Ray Lengend, also known as Suraj Poonai, following his arrest in 2012. (New York Daily News photo)

In pleading guilty, Lengend claimed responsibility for the attacks in which he used Molotov cocktails, made of Starbucks Frappuccino bottles filled with gasoline, to attack mosques, a deli, a private residence and a Hindu place of worship, the report said.

According to the criminal complaint, Lengend drove to a gas station in a stolen rental car and he purchased the provisions for his attack before heading off to a mosque at 89-89 Van Wyck Expressway. He balked at performing the task because of a police presence near the house of worship and instead torched a nearby deli at the corner of Hillside Avenue and 179th Street.

Lengend immediately drove back to the mosque, where 80 people were praying at the time, and threw one of the Molotov cocktails at the front entrance before fleeing.

Lengend’s attacks did not end there. He went to a home near 107th Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard, which he attacked before heading to Elmont,Long Island where his brother-in-law lived. The Molotov cocktail he threw at the house, however, did not explode and he moved on to the next target.

A house at 170th Street and 88th Avenue, which doubled as a Hindu temple, was next on the list of targets, according to the criminal complaint.

Lengend was later arrested and kept at Bellevue Hospital’s psych ward where he was arraigned by teleconference.

In statements to the police, Lengend said the goal of the attacks was to inflict as much damage to Muslims, Hindus and “Arabs” as possible, the report added.

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