Suspect arrested in burning of Jewish scrolls in Williamsburg

April 10, 2013 Heather Chin
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Police have reportedly arrested a “person of interest” in the case of the mezuzah burnings in Williamsburg this past Monday and Tuesday.

South Williamsburg resident Ruben Ubiles, 35, was apprehended early Wednesday morning; he is suspected of burning 12 of the religious scrolls that hang in doorways of observant Jews.

Eleven mezuzahs were discovered burned late Monday afternoon — which was also Holocaust Remembrance Day — at 85 Taylor Street, and one more burned on Tuesday at 130 Clymer Street.

The NYPD has been investigating the case as a potential hate crime due to the religious value of the scrolls and the timing of the incident.

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Ruben Ubiles's mugshot. (Image courtesy of the NYPD.)

Ubiles reportedly maintains his innocence, insisting in a Facebook post that while he finds their burning of “wood and garbage” to be annoying, he has “worked with them for years, so why create an unnecessary problem for me when I’m on the verge of finally grow [sic] as a person”?

He went on, stating that ““Im [sic] known for getting into fights,” but “I dont [sic] like fires. Been threw [sic] too many of those to attempt to threaten a community thats [sic] has not violated me.”

Ubiles has a lengthy criminal record for thefts, robberies, assault, car theft, possession of a controlled substance, trespassing, and possession of a firearm.

According to Metro, he has been in jail 13 times.

Ubiles will remain in custody pending arraignment. He was identified via witness tips following the release of surveillance footage near the building.

Rabbi David Niederman, of United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, thanked the NYPD “for their tireless work to find the person responsible for these hateful acts [and bring] us one step closer to justice.”

Politicians across Brooklyn and the city were also quick to condemn the attack and celebrate the arrest. They held a press conference Wednesday afternoon outside the 90th Precinct (at South 5th Street and Montrose Avenue) praising the NYPD for their swift investigation.

Among those present were local representatives such as Assemblymember Joseph Lentol, State Senator Daniel Squadron, and Councilmembers Stephen Levin, Letitia James, Erik Dilan and David Greenfield. City officials and mayoral candidates Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio were also in attendance.

Levin and Lentol told their Williamsburg constituents that “Williamsburg will not tolerate hate, Brooklyn will not tolerate hate, and New York City will not tolerate hate” and “our community has no tolerance for individuals that infringe on the religious freedoms of others.”

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