Lenny De La Rosa, 21, has been charged with four counts of criminal mischief in the fourth degree as a hate crime, which could land him behind bars for between 16 months and four years.
According to the New York Post, De La Rosa allegedly vandalized Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun Synagogue at East 85th and Lexington on the evening of August 12, writing “JESUS SAINTZZZ” on a screen situated just outside the front door.
Just two days later, he was said to have walked up to Temple Shaaray Tefila at East 79th Street and 2nd and scrawled “DEAD RIIP” on a display case near the entrance, and then promptly moved a few blocks up to E. 85th Street and Lexington and tagged a Hatzalah volunteer Jewish ambulance with “Dead Rip.”
De La Rosa allegedly concluded his crime spree by writing “Dead B-P” on the front door of Congregation Or Zarua at East 82nd and Lexington.
“As alleged, Lenny De La Rosa defaced three synagogues and an ambulance in a series of antisemitic acts,” District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement. “Synagogues are sacred places where everyone should be able to practice their faith safely. We will not allow our houses of worship to be violated by hateful acts and we do not tolerate bias and antisemitism.”
As the Post reports, when authorities presented De La Rosa with footage of him allegedly committing the acts, he said, “That’s my work.” When confronted by the outlet in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday, he added that he was “just an artist.”
De La Rosa has claimed that he “just so happened” to deface the synagogues, adding, “I wouldn’t really consider myself antisemitic, because anything that black people do is antisemitic to any other race.”
He appeared to suggest he was Muslim, but made sure to point out he “had Jewish friends.”