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Police: Man confesses in New York City firebomb attacks

From Brian Vitagliano and Susan Candiotti, CNN
updated 11:14 PM EST, Tue January 3, 2012
The attacks resulted in damage but no injuries, the New York Police Department said.
The attacks resulted in damage but no injuries, the New York Police Department said.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The suspect is taken to a hospital in Queens after demonstrating irrational behavior
  • NEW: Ray Lazier Lengend has confessed to the attacks, police say
  • NEW: Among other charges, he faces one count of arson as a hate crime

New York (CNN) -- A Queens man who faces charges related to five firebombings in the New York City metropolitan area is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, authorities said late Tuesday.

The suspect was taken to a hospital in Queens after demonstrating irrational behavior, said Paul Browne, deputy commissioner for the New York Police Department.

Ray Lazier Lengend, who police said has confessed to the attacks, is charged with five counts of criminal possession of a weapon (possession of an explosive), one count of arson as a hate crime and four counts of arson.

An Islamic center and a Hindu place of worship were among those bombed during Sunday's conflagrations, which involved several Molotov cocktails.

New York City Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne noted that the man had "a gripe with someone at each location."

A source with knowledge of the investigation offered details Tuesday about the grievances that allegedly preceded the weekend's attacks.

"In the case of the mosque, (the suspect) was mad at them because they wouldn't let him use the bathroom," the source told CNN.

At the Hindu temple in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, which doubles as a residence, the accused arsonist allegedly had a dispute with someone who lived nearby or had worked there.

At a grocery store set ablaze -- also in Jamaica, Queens -- the man allegedly told investigators that someone had thrown him out of the store for shoplifting, the source added.

At a residence in Elmont, Long Island, the suspect allegedly told police that he was angry at an in-law who lived there.

And at a torched Jamaica, Queens home, the suspect allegedly said that he was upset with someone who had sold him drugs.

But, in that case, "he accidentally set the wrong house on fire," the source added.

No injures were reported in any of the incidents.

Video released Monday by police showed a person lobbing a flaming object toward a building. A fiery explosion can be seen an instant later.

The incidents have ignited alarm.

An official at the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center has said some 75 community members were leaving the center when they spotted a fire near the front door.

He said they found "two Molotov bombs" -- broken bottles containing flammable liquid.

"Thank God, nobody was injured and we're OK," said Maan Al-Sahlani, minister of religion at the center. "It's not major damage -- maybe because of the rain, maybe because our people tried to put down the fire."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo condemned the attacks in a statement Monday, saying such acts "go against everything we stand for as New Yorkers and Americans."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations urged police to increase security around mosques.

CNN's Marina Landis contributed to this report

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