Two local teenagers are being charged for their alleged involvement in a bias crime which occurred on the football field at Massapequa High School on Wednesday May 27.
According to 7th Precinct Lt. Det. Arthur McLoughlin, a 14-year-old minor was walking onto the track field at Massapequa High School when he was approached by a 16-year-old student at the high school.
"The minor took a glass container filled with gasoline from his home and was going to pour the gas and watch it burn out," said McLoughlin. "As soon as he got into the school grounds, the 16-year old approached him."
McLoughlin said that the MHS student took the container away from the minor and made the shape of a swastika in gasoline. The boy then proceeded to burn the shape into the grass.
"The other kid [the minor] didn't have a clue what he was going to do," said McLoughlin.
A groundskeeper at the high school found the twelve by thirteen foot gas-burned swastika embedded on the grass of the football field on Friday afternoon. At the scene, detectives were uncertain weather the hate symbol was caused by fire or chemicals.
After the investigation on the field, school custodians used green spray paint to cover over the imprint.
Over the weekend police detectives from the 7th Precinct and the Bias Crime Unit investigated the incident and, according to McLoughlin, an anonymous source led detectives to the two Massapequa youths.
According to reports, the MHS student exclaimed as he was being being led from a squad car to Nassau Police Headquarters, "I didn't do it. I was set up."
The Massapequa High School student is being charged as an adult with fourth degree criminal mischief and it is being handled by the police department as a bias incident. If found guilty, the student could be sentenced to up to a year in prison. The juvenile is being charged with juvenile delinquency for the intent to damage property.
Superintendent of School James Brucia said that the district is 'treating this very seriously because it's something we don't want tolerated."
The superintendent added that the teenagers involved, depending on each student's circumstances, may be called for a superintendent's hearing to determine what course of action the district will take.
Brucia indicated that the MHS student may be suspended from school, separated from mainstream classrooms, or excluded from classes for a period of more than five days. Whether or not the student had any prior disciplinary problems would be considered.
But to deal with psychological impact of the incident on students at the school, Brucia said that on Monday June 8, a member of the clergy and a rabbi will be speaking to high school contemporary issues and human rights classes. Teachers have also been sent a memo directing them to spend part of their classes discussing the incident. Brucia commented, "We felt that this was not what Massapequa or Massapequa High School is about and that this was an individual act by someone for whatever reason."
He added, "We regret that it happened, we're angry that it happened and we're trying to deal with it in a manner that's fair for everyone."