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All 3 suspects arrested in Island hate crime, graffiti incidents

An 18-year-old Island man surrendered to Mercer Island police on Friday in regard to hate crime incidents involving graffiti, vandalism and trespassing at Northwest Yeshiva High School, St. Monica Catholic Church and Island Park Elementary School last month.

The Mercer Island Police Department had already arrested two young men who are students at Mercer Island High School. They served search warrants at three Mercer Island homes on Wednesday, Oct. 6, in connection with three hate crimes committed in mid-September.

The adult and the two juvenile suspects, both 17 years old, are allegedly responsible for malicious harassment graffiti incidents that occurred on Sept. 14 at Island Park Elementary School and on Sept. 17 at Northwest Yeshiva High School and St. Monica Catholic Church.

Tips from the community assisted the Mercer Island Police Criminal Investigations Section with its investigation, which led to the arrests. Detectives found physical evidence at the homes of all three suspects and viewed text and cell phone records.

After his arrest, the 18-year-old man was booked into the King County Jail. He remained in jail as of Monday. His bail was set on Saturday at $20,000.

According to Dan Donohue of the King County Prosecutors office, charges are expected to be brought by Wednesday, Oct. 13.

Two juveniles were arrested earlier in the week and booked into the King County Juvenile Detention Facility in connection to the crimes. They have been released.

According to Police Detective Pete Erickson, the charges forwarded to the King County Prosecutor for the three are for malicious harassment, first-degree malicious mischief, second-degree burglary and criminal conspiracy.

The Certification of Probable Cause prepared for the case states that police officers found at each residence “multiple cans of spray paint, paint markers and documents with practiced graffiti.” Other items included clothing identified from video surveillance footage and evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia. The graffiti ‘monikers’ found at the crime scenes were identified and linked to the suspects. At least one such name had been seen at another incident.

The police department has been contacted by the Jewish Federation and the Anti-Defamation League in regard to the crimes and the investigation.

Detective Erickson said the department takes these incidents very seriously and is applying all possible police resources to the case.

The vandalism and graffiti were discovered at Northwest Yeshiva High School on the eve of Yom Kippur and included swastikas, references to death camps and gas chambers. Neighbors helped clean up the damage. A courtyard at St. Monica was also covered with offensive markings. Island Park Elementary was marked with references to police and minorities.

At least one of the young men is a suspect in similar incidents.

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