FOREST HILLS, Queens (PIX11) — A man with a history of allegedly targeting religious sites around New York City is accused of vandalizing a Queens church last week, authorities said.
Juan Velez, 29, allegedly threw a rock at the glass front door of the Grace Lutheran Church at 103-15 Union Turnpike in Forest Hills on Jan. 29 just before 4 p.m., police said.
Velez was arrested Sunday and charged with criminal mischief as a hate crime and criminal mischief with intent to damage property, police said.
He was arraigned on Monday and ordered to undergo a psychiatric exam, according to public court records. Bail was set at $50,000 cash or $150,000 bond.
Velez was previously arrested on similar charges for allegedly vandalizing religious locations in Midtown Manhattan in October, including clergy residences at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, according to the NYPD.
Velez allegedly hurled a wrench at a glass outer door of the clergy residences near East 50th Street and Fifth Avenue around 12:25 p.m. Oct. 28, according to authorities. The following day, Velez allegedly ripped a flag outside the All Saints Episcopal Church on East 60th Street near Second Avenue, also damaging the wooden front doors of the house of worship, police said.
He also allegedly threw an unknown object at a glass door at the Archdiocese of New York’s headquarters on First Avenue near East 55th Street hours after the second incident, police said.
Velez was arrested for those incidents in November, court records showed.
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incidents.