Police arrest suspect with ties to church vandalism in Oakland Gardens

TimesLedger Newspapers
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

A vandal who targeted the American Martyrs Parish in Oakland Gardens was slapped with hate crime charges after he was apprehended by police.

Religious statues in front of the house of worship — located at 79-43 Bell Blvd. — were shattered and destroyed, two of which had a combined value of $2,000, according to police.

The suspect, Lee Sung, 26, of Bellerose, was arrested shortly following the Feb. 23 incident and charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief for allegedly breaking the Blessed Mother, valued at $1,500, and the Sacred Heart, at around $500, statues, according to NYPD.

Other charges facing Sung are criminal contempt, aggravated harassment and an additional count of aggravated harassment in the second degree, cops said.

The aggravated harassment and criminal mischief both carry hate crime status, according to a police spokeswoman.

Father Frank Schwarz of American Martyrs expressed confusion as to why Sung would target the parish, which falls under the purview of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

“I just sincerely hope he tries to get the help he needs, I don’t know why he would do this, hope that he really gets the help he needs and realizes that God still loves him,” Schwarz said. “I just would like to know what he has against the church, what he has against this church, in particular. I don’t know if he has done this somewhere else, but I don’t know why he would target this facility. We have never done anything to him.”

Sung was allegedly seen on surveillance footage dragging the Blessed Mother statue about 25 feet before it was smashed, the diocese said.

The Sacred Heart was flung down a flight of stairs leading to the rectory.

Security cameras captured a man walking back and forth across the frame mostly in the shadows, while another camera facing the rectory door only depicts the Sacred Heart falling to the ground at the foot of the steps.

Recent months have seen American Martyrs the victim of other vandals. In December, the fingers from the statue of St. Isaac Jogues in the prayer garden were found bent backwards. In October, the bingo sign was found with damage.

Another man was arrested in August after security footage capture a vandal throwing a brick through the window of the church doors.

It is not clear if the individual incidents are related.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

Posted 12:00 am, March 1, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reader feedback

Bob from Glen Oaks says:
As president of the largest Co-op and Condo, I can't believe my neighborhood is going downhill.
March 1, 2018, 4:43 pm
American from USA says:
Why are you surprised? We keep letting in more and more trash into this country!!! We sell are homes to the highest bidders,only to have them build multi dwellings in one family areas. Noone has any respect for anything other than the mighty dollar$$$$

!If it were any other group they would be screaming bias attack. Catholics have to stop turning the other cheek!!!
March 3, 2018, 8:48 am
Real American from United States of America says:
@America from USA..The trash actually started with the original immigrants. They came here illegally (by today's standards) and brought over their disease and fanatical religious ideology. In time, they terrorized the locals, cut down whole forests and killed animals in large numbers all because they had WMDs (guns). They essentially invaded this land and imposed their will against the local people.
March 24, 2018, 9:51 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.


Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: