OLEAN — Olean police have charged a 20-year-old man with a felony following graffiti incidents at the Olean Public Library and the city’s military recruiting station.
The Criminal Investigation Unit of the Olean Police Department reported they charged Ayden B. Hendricks, 20, of 350 Front St., Thursday afternoon with third-degree criminal mischief, a class E felony.
The charge stems from an incident Dec. 17, when a police patrol spotted graffiti spray painted on the Olean Public Library, at the corner of North Second and Laurens streets; and on the buildings and vehicles at the recruiting station, at 452 N. Barry St.
The messages included swastikas, a racial slur toward Blacks, and male genitalia. One swastika on the recruiting station was below the letters “AWD,” which is an acronym used for the neo-Nazi organization Atomwaffen Division.
In addition, bumper stickers on the building for various branches of the military were also defaced. A black minivan was also covered in graffiti at the recruiting station.
The incident occurred during a period of violence aimed at military personnel. On Dec. 4, a gunman opened fire on civilian Department of Defense workers at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii, killing two before shooting himself.
Three days later, a Royal Saudi Air Force officer opened fire in a classroom at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, killing three. In addition, a number of incidents across the state had been reported involving spray painted swastikas as anti-Semetic attacks, including an incident two weeks prior at the Holocaust Museum in Glen Cove.
Police reported that the incident was originally investigated as a hate crime, with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the U.S. Army contacted during the probe. However, the charges were not upgraded to a hate crime.
Hendricks was arrested at his apartment without incident, processed and released for a future date in city court.
(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)