ARCADE, N.Y. (WIVB) — The only adult charged in what police in Arcade are calling a series of hate crimes from vandalism, will likely be spending his Independence Day in jail.
He and three other teens facing felony charges after several vandalism incidents overnight Friday, could be facing more charges, after police said they admitted to the same behavior in other nearby communities.
What brought them down? A late-night craving for pizza and good detective work, according to officer Michael Lococo.
Arcade police arrested 20-year-old Damien Brown and three of his friends — two 16 year olds and a 17 year old — who police said all folded under questioning over the weekend, and admitted to acts of vandalism in Arcade, Orchard Park, the towns of Sardinia, Boston, Delevan and Yorkshire during the past few months. Police in Orchard Park said late Monday they are investigating possible links.
Police in Arcade used surveillance video and social media to track down a Jeep Liberty, which they said was driven by Brown that night. And they relied on good police work.
“The reason we found that vehicle was we were able to visibly see them spray paint two of the vehicles, before getting back into a Jeep Liberty and driving away,” Lococo said. “There is only one business open (at that hour), so that officer responded to that business and went to check the video feed, and sure enough the same Jeep Liberty pulls in and (Brown) orders a pizza,” Lococo said.”
“Once we were able to actually locate names of these subjects, we looked on Facebook and find locations of them because unfortunately, kids nowadays put everything on social media,” he added.
The four are charged with disorderly conduct, conspiracy and criminal mischief, which is normally a misdemeanor, but was bumped to a felony because these are considered hate crimes.
“I think these random acts of vandalism were just that, random,” Lococo said. “I think at this point, they have progressed to the next level of graffiti and everything else. I understand, I’ve seen it before where they tag pictures, faces and stuff like that, but once you start getting into obscenities, once you start getting into hateful words like the N-word, like the swastikas that are all over our bridges now, it brings it to another level. That is not kids being kids at this point.”
Earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo created a new text line to report crimes of bias and hate. Victims or witnesses to a hate crime can text 81336 to report the incident.
“We are a very small community,” Lococo said. “Everyone knows everyone out here. Everyone likes everyone around here. It’s actually kind of amazing that this did hit our area. Seeing in the news what happened in Orchard Park, what happened in multiple other towns throughout New York state, and to think that it happened here, it baffled every one of us.”