Smiling serial vandal targeting St. Pat’s arrested in another church crime: NYPD

The serial vandal, who is accused of hurling a wrench through Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s residence at St Patrick’s Cathedral, was arrested again this week for allegedly throwing a rock at a Lutheran church in Queens – while grinning at a security camera .

Juan Velez, 29, who had previously been released under custody for 15 separate acts of vandalism, including the Oct. 28 incident against St. Patrick’s, was arrested again Sunday, this time for the Queens crime, police said.

Velez threw a rock at the glass door of Grace Lutheran Church on Union Turnpike near 71st Road in Forest Hills just before 4 p.m. on Jan. 29, police officers said.

The video shows him smiling into a surveillance camera as he throws the stone at the church in broad daylight.

A week later, on Sunday afternoon, he was arrested and charged with two counts of criminal mischief: one as a hate crime and the other with intent to damage property, police officers said.

The incident comes more than two months after Velez was released in March over the St. Patrick’s incident and 14 other alleged felonies — all thanks to the state’s much-criticized non-cash bail laws.

Juan Velez appears to be smiling for the camera as he throws a rock at the glass door of Grace Lutheran Church.
Velez hurled a rock at the glass door of Grace Lutheran Church on Union Turnpike near 71st Road in Forest Hills in broad daylight on January 29, police officers said.

Juan Velez appears in Manhattan Criminal Court in connection with St. Patrick's vandalism and 14 other incidents.
Velez had just been released under supervision during his indictment in November in connection with 15 criminal incidents.
Curtis means for DailyMail.Com

The vandalism of St. Patrick’s, which also took place in broad daylight, was also caught on surveillance footage.

The wrench shattered the glass door and ended up in an anteroom, authorities said.

Among the other alleged crimes — which ultimately didn’t keep Velez behind bars either — included a disturbing incident in which he dropped a glass bottle over a railing on the second floor of the Columbus Circle stores as shoppers walked underneath, officials said.

In a March 16 shooting spree, Velez was caught by surveillance footage kicking down a glass door in Central Park South, authorities said.

He is accused of kicking in other glass doors and windows, smashing a parked car mirror with a skateboard and throwing objects through doors and windows, according to the complaint against him.

A mug shot of Juan Velez, 29, released by the NYPD.
The NYPD released a mugshot of Juan Velez, April 29.

Velez was facing 14 counts of criminal mischief and one count of reckless endangerment, but the misdemeanor charges were not bailable, a Manhattan District Attorney’s Representative, Alvin Bragg, told The Post at the time.

“We continue to investigate this case to determine if any of the incidents were motivated by bias,” Assistant District Attorney Emilio Hernandez said in the indictment, according to prepared observations.

Velez had previously been accused of similar behavior several times, but those cases were dismissed in a psychiatric offenses court after he completed counseling sessions, according to prosecutors.

“Given these circumstances, a high-level supervised release is the least restrictive means of ensuring the defendant’s return to justice,” Hernandez said.

The spot where the wrench broke the glass door of Cardinal Timothy Dolan's residence at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Velez allegedly broke the glass door of Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s residence with a wrench and sent the tool into an anteroom.
J. Messerschmidt/NY Post

At the time, critics criticized the decision to release Velez.

“He was charged today with 15 separate incidents of vandalism and now he’s walking the streets to do it again [Gov.] Kathy Hochul’s bail laws,” raged a law enforcement source. “If you can do that with the cardinal’s house, I guess nothing’s off limits. This is unreal. What are its consequences? But that’s exactly what the New Yorkers wanted. You re-elected her.” Smiling serial vandal targeting St. Pat’s arrested in another church crime: NYPD


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