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Michael Setiawan, former NYPD officer, arrested for alleged anti-Semitic messages in Brooklyn
Michael Setiawan, a former NYPD officer, was arrested Sunday afternoon for allegedly spray painting anti-Semitic messages along cars and walls in Brooklyn late Saturday night, police said.
Setiawan, 36, allegedly vandalized 19 buildings and cars near 14th Avenue in Borough Park with anti-Jewish symbols and slurs, police said.
Setiawan, a Queens man who resigned from the force seven years ago, was charged with criminal mischief as a hate crime, criminal mischief, and aggravated harassment as a hate crime. He was charged with 19 counts of each offense, police said.
Police were alerted to the offensive graffiti defacing a religious school on 14th Avenue near 50th Street at about 8:45 Saturday evening. A vehicle in front of the school was sullied with pink spray paint.
Police then discovered similar markings on nearby cars, a check-cashing station, a gas station and a supermarket.
Setiawan’s father, Thomas Setiawan, 66, said his son has a history of mental health issues and has been hospitalized “many times.”
He said the family moved to Queens from Great Neck in the late ’90s.
City Councilman David Greenfield, who was present after police were called to the scene, said he was surprised that a former member of New York’s Finest would allegedly be behind the graffiti.
“Most folks were in synagogues finishing up Sabbath when they came out and saw it on the street,” Greenfield said. “That was pretty disturbing.”
Greenfield said the community sprung into action and was able to help authorities find the suspect. The Borough Park Shomrim, the community’s safety patrol, found the parents of a 10-year-old boy who said he saw the suspect leaving and remembered the license plate, Greenfield said.
“It was certainly impressive,” Greenfield said of the quick arrest.
Several elected city officials expressed outrage over the incident.
“These anti-Semitic crimes are outrageous, sickening and have no place in New York City — period,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said in a statement.
“Hate is not a Brooklyn value, and I repudiate any low-life individual who would spread their prejudiced invective,” Borough President Eric Adams said in a statement.
Anti-Semitic graffiti was also discovered this weekend in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. Polina Popovsky, 45, said the messages, which included “f--- Jews,” were painted on several homes and tree stumps on Exeter Street.
“Anti-Semitic actions seem to be extremely on the rise,” she said. “It’s happening on such a quick pace, it’s very scary.”