A former New York City police officer allegedly suffering from “mental illness” was arrested over the weekend for spray painting anti-Semitic graffiti in numerous locations throughout Brooklyn’s Chassidic neighborhood of Boro Park.
Michael Setiawan left the force in 2007 after two years of service, allegedly due to depression, according to a police source quoted by the New York Daily News. His younger brother, also a police officer, later committed suicide (in 2011), police added. Neighbors living near the family home told the newspaper that Setiawan “has got problems” but said “he’s a good guy.”
Currently age 36, the suspect is accused of having spray-painted 15 cars, three buildings, and a girls’ school with hate-filled words and epithets aimed at Jews.
The words “F — you Jew” and “Jew cheap s—-“ were sprayed on to the walls of the Bnos Zion Bobov School on 14th Avenue. Those phrases along with other words and swastikas were also sprayed elsewhere in the neighborhood.
The vandalism created havoc in Boro Park. Residents were terrorized; many are elderly Holocaust survivors with memories of how their nightmares in eastern Europe started — those nightmares began with similar epithets and words scrawled by the Nazis on the buildings around their homes decades ago.
Surveillance cameras caught sight of a bald man wielding a spray paint can on Saturday night in the graffiti attack who appeared to be Setiawan, according to a report published by the newspaper. He was arrested Sunday after detectives reviewed the footage and checked the registration of the car seen in the tape, a source said.
The former police officer was charged with 19 counts each of criminal mischief as a hate crime, and aggravated harassment as a hate crime in connection with the vandalism.
Local Jewish community leaders expressed shock that the perpetrator was a former police officer, but praised detectives for the quick arrest.