Say F. H. Man Stabbed Victim Over His Faith
Made Verbal Threats To Qns. Mosque
Accused of stabbing a man at a Kew Gardens Hills mosque last November, a Forest Hills man charged last Friday, June 28, for the hate crime allegedly vandalized and telephoned threats to the house of worship days before and after the attack, law enforcement sources said.
Bernhard Laufer, 55, of 65th Road, was taken into custody by the NYPD Bias Incident Investigations Unit last Friday on counts of seconddegree attempted murder, second-degree assault and first-degree attempted assault—all of which were classified as hate crimes—and two additional counts of second-degree assault and first-degree attempted assault.
Prosecutors stated Laufer allegedly knifed a 57-year-old man attempting to open the Masjid Al-Saaliheen Mosque, located at 72-55 Kissena Blvd. in Kew Gardens Hills, for morning prayers on Nov. 18, 2012. The victim was treated at a local hospital for stab wounds about his body.
The suspect was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court last Saturday, June 29, before Judge Deborah Stevens-Modica, who ordered him held on $200,000 bail Laufer was ordered to return to court on July 8. If convicted, he faces between eight and 25 years behind bars.
“[Laufer] is accused of having repeatedly stabbed the victim in a hate crime attack and to have used hateful speech. Remarkably, the injuries sustained by the victim, though serious, were not fatal,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement last Friday. “Crimes fueled by hate will never be tolerated here in Queens County, the most diverse county in the nation. When they do, regrettably, occur, they will be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
According to information provided by the Queens District Attorney’s office, Laufer was previously arrested on May 14 by the NYPD Bias Incident Investigations Unit for allegedly throwing rocks and damaging the front door of the mosque on Nov. 16, 2012—two days before the murder attempt—and leaving a threatening message on the mosque’s answering machine on Nov. 21, 2012.
In that case, court records indicated Laufer was arraigned on charges of fourth-degree criminal mischief and second-degree aggravated harassment (both as hate crimes) and three additional counts of aggravated harassment. At the time of his arrest last Friday, he had been out on $1,500 bail.
Regarding the stabbing, law enforcement sources stated, the 57- year-old man was in the process of opening up the Masjid Al-Saaliheen Mosque at around 4:50 a.m. on Nov. 18, 2012, when Laufer allegedly approached him from behind and stabbed the man in the back.
The injured man reportedly turned around and saw Laufer standing behind him. As the victim attempted to raise his arms to protect himself, authorities noted, Laufer allegedly plunged the knife into the victim about the body repeatedly, then fled from the scene.
During the attack, prosecutors stated, Laufer allegedly disparaged the victim for his Muslim faith.
Officers from the 107th Precinct and EMS units responded to the scene. The victim was taken to a local Queens hospital, where he received numerous stitches and staples to close his multiple stab wounds.
As for the vandalism case, the criminal complaint noted Laufer allegedly threw a rock several times at the front door of the mosque sometime between 9 p.m. on Nov. 15, 2012 and 5:15 a.m. the following morning. Members of the mosque reportedly discovered several holes in the front door and a rock lying nearby.
Three days after the man was stabbed at the mosque, police reported, Laufer allegedly called the mosque multiple times at around 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2012, and left several threatening message on the voicemail system.
In his statements, as described in the criminal complaint, Laufer allegedly stated “Die, Muslims, die,” and threatened to cause death and harm to other Muslims around the world.
Detectives, in their investigation of the calls, determined that they had originated from two landlines operated at Laufer’s residence, it was reported.
The attempted murder case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney David J. Jeffries of the DA’s Gang Violence and Hate Crimes Bureau, which is supervised by Assistant District Attorneys Mariela Herring, bureau chief, Michelle E. Goldstein, deputy bureau chief, and Michael E. Brovner, supervisor.