Police have arrested a Brooklyn man on hate-crime charges after he repeatedly scrawled racist messages inside a Penn Station bathroom, they said.
Pasquale Vargas, 65, was arrested Sunday after an Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police surveillance operation “related to a pattern of hate-crime graffiti” inside a Penn Station men’s room stall, according to a statement Monday by the office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
“This arrest sends a clear message that all hate crimes will be thoroughly investigated, and we will prosecute those found responsible for perpetrating these reprehensible actions,” Cuomo said in the statement. “We have zero tolerance for these acts of bigotry, which stand in direct contrast to the values that we New Yorkers represent. I applaud the MTA Police Department for their vigilance and actions in this investigation.”
Pasquale has been charged with eight counts of criminal mischief as a hate crime — a felony — for the graffiti incidents that police said occurred Feb. 18.
Detectives monitoring Penn Station noticed the scrawlings, which included “KKK,” “Mexican Go Home,” and swastikas, in a bathroom stall that had just been used by Vargas. Police say the graffiti was not there before he used it.
Police stopped and searched Vargas and found a black Sharpie marker in his backpack. After his arrest, Pasquale admitted to detectives that he vandalized the stall “because Mexicans take jobs from Americans,” according to MTA Police.
“No one should think they can get away with trying to intimidate the public in this way,” new MTA Police Chief Owen Monaghan said in a statement.