A community came together Monday in a show of solidarity, after a Brooklyn mosque was desecrated Saturday. Police say they believe the same man desecrated another mosque 30 minutes later.
A hammier-wielding man was seen on video breaking a door of the Beit El-Maqdis Islamic Center in Sunset Park, smashing five windows, and damaging a security camera.
"He whacked away at the door handle, which is metal — hard metal — and he broke it," said Naim Jawad, a spokesman for the Islamic center. "After that, he went to the windows, [and] one by one, he broke the windows with the hammer."
The attack at the Beit El-Maqdis Islamic Center on 6th Ave. near 63rd St. occurred at a little before 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Police said the man ran off on 62nd St.
Some members of the mosque said they feel fortunate that no one was hurt over the weekend.
Police said they believe the same man used the hammer 30 minutes later to vandalize a second Brooklyn mosque on 8th Ave. near 60th St.
Monday afternoon, elected officials and religious leaders stood in solidarity with the Muslim community.
"The hammer may have shattered the glass, but it did not shatter our spirit and our unity," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. "We are not going to move towards an area where hatred would be the signature of this borough. It's an unfortunate incident, but whether it happened or not, it was meant to happen. It did happen, but we will stand up against this, and we will let the detectives from the hate crime unit or the detectives from the second precinct that are continuing this investigation until they find this individual."
"The person who did that probably thought, that may be he would scare us, separate us," said Rabbi Joseph Potansnik of the New York Board of Rabbis. "On the contrary, the person brought us even closer to one another."
So far this year, hate crimes are up once again in the city, with 327 complaints filed, compared to 279 at this time last year — an increase of 17 percent.
Members of Beit El-Maqdis Islamic Center said the last incident the mosque faced was 12 years ago, when someone broke windows and stole a donation box.
There are several surveillance cameras outside and inside the Islamic center. Due to the Saturday vandalism incident, there are now calls for other houses of worship to enhance their security measures.
Officials for the Islamic center said they are trying to determine how to better secure the building's windows to prevent a major tragedy from happening:
"What happens if somebody wants to throw a cocktail bomb into the mosque? With the rug over here, we're going to have a disaster," Jawad said.
Anyone with information on the case should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577- 8477, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com