- The Magazine
A Long Island man has been charged with a hate crime, in addition to a host of other charges, for allegedly terrorizing people based on his perception of their religion or sexual orientation.
Christopher Keller, 36, of Manorville, N.Y., has been charged in connection with several reported shootings and acts of vandalism. He faces 36 different charges, including felony aggravated harassment as a hate crime, criminal mischief, menacing, and criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison.
On Friday, Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini announced the various charges against Keller as part of a 36-count indictment, calling him “an absolute menace.”
In November and December, Keller allegedly shot a firearm into three establishments in Holtsville, Medford, and Nesconset, as well as a residence in Kings Park, where he is also accused of vandalizing cars outside the home. A worker at one of the businesses told detectives they had received harassing messages on social media, a tip which eventually led police to arrest Keller, according to the New York-based ABC7.
According to prosecutors, Keller allegedly chose his victims because he believed them to be Jewish or gay, and police claim he posted “disturbing” statements on Instagram towards his victims that included threats and hate speech.
No one was injured in any of the incidents, although Sini emphasized the fear that Keller allegedly provoked in his victims, saying: “When you’re targeted based on your religion, that is an extremely isolating and scary feeling to have.”
Keller’s attorney, Glenn Obedin, told ABC7 that the evidence will show that his client was being harassed by other people, and that Sini’s version of events isn’t the full story.
“Whether or not he did theses things, we’ll find out,” Obedin said. “Whether or not he’s a victim of things happening to him from these people, we’ll find out…This may have gone back and forth both ways. I think there’s a lot more to this case than we heard today.”
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