Ray Lazier Lengend confessed to a string of high profile firebombings on New Year's Day. He allegedly bombed an Islamic cultural center in Jamaica, Queens, a bodega, a Hindu house of worship and two residences in Queens and Nassau County.
Reports indicate that Lengend, the 40-year-old from Guyana, threw a Molotov cocktail at the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center. At a press conference yesterday, Commissioner Ray Kelly said detectives were able to track down Lengend from a stolen car with Virginia license plates. They believed he used the vehicle at some of his attacks. Around 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Commissioner Kelly said, he was arrested. Police said he was then taken to a hospital for a psychiatric examination.
Queens politicians and religious leaders rallied around victims of the firebombing at the press conference.
This cannot continue, said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. He must be punished to the fullest extent.
New Yorkers will not stand for intolerance anywhere, said Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks.
Police officials say that Lengend made implicating remarks about himself when he was being questioned. He allegedly had a personal grievance against the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center because he was not allowed to use the bathroom. He was also allegedly angry with the bodega because they removed him for the premises. Officials said that Lengend attacked residences because he had previous arguments with owners, which included family members.
Lengend bought five Starbucks Frappuccinos. He used them to make Molotov cocktails and firebombed the homes and religious centers.
In the wake of the attacks, residents and worshipers were left concerned for their safety and the safety of their community. They asked what kind of individual is so consumed with anger that he will risk killing innocent civilians?
This man is angry at the world, said Dr. Gerald Bryant. Bryant is a clinical and forensic psychologist practicing for over 20 years. He is a member of the Forensic Psychology Group and has extensive training in substance abuse treatment and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In cases like this, both with the man who killed the woman in the elevator and the firebomber, you are not dealing with normal anger.
People who experience such intense anger at perceived insults seek to violently attack their victims. Dr. Bryant cited the fact that the Islamic center would not allow him to use the restroom. That's something that is relatively minor to you and me, but when somebody is mentally ill...they see that as a tremendous insult. Lengend possibly believed that their offense had to be met with intense force. Anything they perceive as an insult gets transformed into something catastrophic.
Dr. Bryant suggested that, to Lengend, the worst retaliation is to destroy the entire place. Arsonists and crimes that use fire are often associated with intense rage. And Lengend, possibly, had plenty of it and wanted to exact revenge.
Although he attacked a Hindu house of worship, Dr. Bryant said that Lengden could have just lumped them together with the Islamic center. He probably can't distinguish, the difference between the two groups and wanted to take his anger out on all Muslims.
There are some warning signs for these types of angry and uncontrollable people.
In many neighborhoods you find people that that say 'don't bother that guy, he's crazy.' The guy could even be dangerous, said Dr. Bryant. Many times these individuals have previous arrests or psychological issues. Dr. Bryant says that these people live insulated lives, almost like hermits. However, it is difficult for these people to willfully undergo treatment and meet with a psychiatrist.
If their illness gets worse and they feel that the world is picking on them, they will start to try and retaliate, said Dr. Bryant. Their quick tempers and impulsive action will drive them to the breaking point.
It is like a pot on a low fame. It just keeps bubbling and, if someone adds fuel to the fire, they eventually blow up.