4 teens face hate crime charges in Ramapo, accused of antisemitic drive-by harassment

"If you do something like this in our town and your target anybody because of their religion, their race, or any reason, our police will find you," Town Supervisor Michael Specht said.

Ben Nandy

May 8, 2024, 9:15 PM

Updated 20 days ago

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Four teenagers are charged with multiple hate crime offenses over two weekends in two Ramapo neighborhoods.
Town Supervisor Michael Specht says he is appalled by the two drive-by harassment incidents, but not entirely surprised.
"We're not just going to say, 'Oh it's just kids being stupid,' and leave it at that," he said in an interview at his office Wednesday morning. "We're going to take it seriously."
In the first incident on April 19, two 17-year-olds are accused of driving down Cragmere Road, shooting a man with a pellet gun, and shouting antisemitic slurs at him.
They were arrested a short time later.
"We hope they learn something from it," Specht said, "that if you do something like this in our town and your target anybody because of their religion, their race, or any reason, our police will find you."
Based on their alleged actions days later, the teens might not have immediately learned a lesson.
Police said the next weekend, the same two 17-year-olds were back in a car – this time with two other teenagers – and did something similar.
They are accused of pulling up next to a man near Kathryn Gorman Ponds Park, throwing garbage at him, and yelling slurs.
Police checked surveillance video and a receipt from a local store to find and arrest all four.
"We're trying to talk to these kids at the school level," Ramapo Police Sgt. Mike Higgins said Wednesday of the department's visits to local students to impress upon them the severity of such offenses.
His basic message: The offenses are not mischievous; they are hateful and will be handled accordingly.
"We tell them how important it is and what a bad idea it is to go forward with something like this," Sgt. Higgins said. "We're reaching out to them to express the seriousness of a crime like this, and hopefully we can prevent future crimes."
Town officials said that overall they have not been receiving many reports of incidents similar to these recent ones, hence they have not filed many hate crime charges.
All four teens are charged with aggravated harassment.
The two 17-year-olds face two counts.
The 17-year-old accused of driving the car during both incidents is also charged with felony reckless endangerment, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail.
All the teens were released with court appearance tickets.


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