NEW YORK - A former New York City police officer is under arrest on charges he spray-painted anti-Semitic graffiti on cars and buildings in a mostly Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood.
Michael Setiawan, 36, was picked up after police received a 911 call on Saturday evening about the swastikas and other anti-Semitic vandalism in Borough Park.
The former cop faces 19 charges, including criminal mischief as a hate crime and aggravated harassment. CBS New York reports he was questioned for hours by police before being taken for a mental evaluation.
The spray-painted words were found on 15 vehicles and four buildings near a Jewish synagogue and school run by the ultra-Orthodox Bobov community.
Surveillance video from outside of the Jewish girls school in the neighborhood shows a man spray painting anti-Semitic graffiti, according to the station.
"I'm very confident - and I believe the authorities as well - that this is the person responsible for the hatred that was spread throughout the Jewish community in Borough Park," Assemblyman Dov Hikind told CBS New York. "People in the neighborhood... are upset.... This is just a horrible thing, the messages of hate. Some of them that I can't even repeat. Just a very shocking thing."
According to CBS New York, a young boy helped break the case after he saw the suspect tagging a car and took down his license plate number while the suspect drove away.
Police say Setiawan was an officer in the New York City Police Department until 2007, serving in Brooklyn's 69th precinct in the Canarsie neighborhood.
"The possibility that this was done by a former member of the NYPD makes that all the more shocking," city Councilman David Greenfield told the station. "But at the same time, the fact that the NYPD acted so swiftly is to their credit."
Setiawan and his parents share a home in Queens. His father, Thomas Setiawan, told The Associated Press that he was awakened at 5 a.m. Sunday by a call from police. He then went to his son's room and roused him. Minutes later, a detective showed up to arrest Michael Setiawan, according to his father.
"I asked my son, 'What's wrong? What happened? Is anybody hurt?'" the Indonesian immigrant said in a telephone interview, his voice rising with emotion. "He said 'No, don't worry, nobody's hurt.'"
Thomas Setiawan said his son asked him for the keys to the family car around 8 p.m. Saturday, saying he'd left something inside.
"Then we looked out, and the car was gone," the elder Setiawan said, adding that he and his wife became worried.
He said their son has had mental health issues and that he was depressed and suicidal after leaving the police force. They didn't know why he was no longer an officer, telling them only, "I want to quit."
Before joining the force, Michael Setiawan had been laid off from a job at a Long Island cosmetics factory, his father said. The retired limousine driver said Michael Setiawan was 12 when the family emigrated from Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1989 after winning the green card lottery.
Michael Setiawan was to be arraigned later Sunday or Monday. His father said he did not yet have an attorney.