A senior at Priority-1: Torah Academy of Lawrence-Cedarhurst, an alternative yeshiva in Cedarhurst, was arrested Thursday by police for at least eight incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti at Long Island Rail Road stations in the Five Towns.
Jonathan Schuster, 18, of Far Rockaway, was charged with eight counts of felony criminal mischief-third degree as a hate crime, eights counts of criminal mischief-fourth degree and eight counts of making graffiti both of which are Class A misdemeanors.
Police said that Schuster admitted he used a black marker to post the bias graffiti that usually included expletives on eight occasions dating to December 2012. The graffiti defaced advertising billboards on the platforms of the stations.
The arrest resulted from the joint efforts of the Nassau County Police Department and Metropolitan Transit Authority Police. “Thanks to the work of the men and women of the Nassau County Police Department and MTA Police, a suspect who is responsible for many anti-Semitic crimes in our community was apprehended,” said County Legislator Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence) who represents the area.
Investigators had documented 12 incidents of the graffiti since December 2012, including eight at the Cedarhurst station, three at Lawrence and one at Hewlett. The MTA Police said their investigation of the other four incidents is continuing.
“Thank you to all who were involved in finding and apprehending this suspect,” Cedarhurst resident Jeffrey Leb posted on Facebook Thursday night. “It is only with the combined efforts of many that we were able to catch this criminal.”
Leb had documented incidents of the graffiti since last October and that prompted the Herald’s Nov. 21 story "'Chronic disease' spanws vile messages" and af follow up story “ Battling bias in the Five Towns" is in this week’s newspaper.
Nassau County Crime Stoppers had issued a wanted poster last month that offered a reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible. The posters were distributed at local train stations by members of the county’s Police Explorers, a volunteer youth group whose members are preparing for careers in law enforcement.
“The effort was greatly enhanced by the assistance of Nassau County Crime Stoppers and we are grateful for the support of our law enforcement partners in solving this crime,” MTA Police Chief Michael Coan.