A 23-year-old Forest Hills resident was hit with hate crime charges on Friday, after police identified her as the person who smashed a pair of church statues in July, according to the NYPD.
Jacqueline Nikiena was arrested on Friday, Sept. 10 on charges of criminal mischief as a hate crime and aggravated harassment, police said.
Her arrest comes nearly two months after she was caught on camera smashing a pair of statues outside Our Lady of Mercy church in Forest Hills, according to police.
A video of the vandalism shows the person who police believe to be Nikiena smashing two statues — one of the Blessed Mother and one of St. Therese the Little Flower — against the ground. She then dragged the statues into the street and hurled them against the concrete, the video shows, leaving the 84-year-old figures in pieces.
A GoFundMe page organized on behalf of the church surpassed its $25,000 fundraising goal — money that will go towards repairing the statues.
At the time of the vandalism, Father Frank Schwarz, the pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, called the vandalism “heartbreaking.” He added that “sadly [these acts of vandalism are] becoming more and more common,” alluding to several other statue-toppling incidents at citywide Catholic churches, which happened during the past year.