DA: Three arrested after "targeted" attacks against Muslims

Anthony Cole and two minors may have targeted Muslims but no hate crimes charged

Mike Baggerman
October 31, 2019 - 5:13 pm

WBEN

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – A series of possible targeted crimes against people from the local Muslim community has resulted in the arrest of three people.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn and Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo on Thursday announced the arrest and indictment of Anthony Cole and two minors this week on armed robbery and other crimes.

Cole, 22, and the two boys, ages 16 and 17, robbed a married couple on Monday as they were taking their kids out of their vehicle on Theodore Street on the city’s east side. They were indicted on Tuesday.

The two boys were charged in a separate armed robbery that happened on October 19 near Humason Avenue. Flynn said a gun may have been displayed and one of the boys hit the victim with the weapon, fracturing their jaw and orbital bone.

The district attorney believes the three targeted members of the Muslim community.

“There are also numerous other robberies and burglaries that have occurred in the area that appear to have occurred against members of the Muslim community that the Buffalo Police Department and I are investigating,” Flynn said. “Right now, I don’t have enough evidence to charge anyone with a hate crime.”

Flynn said there is no evidence right now of any racial slurs used by the three against any members of the Muslim community. The DA said a racial slur could lead to hate crime charges and said if there’s overwhelming circumstantial evidence of targeted attacks against Muslims, then hate crime charges could be levied.

“Members of any community…any religion, creed, color, or race, if your neighborhood is being targeted because of your race and religion, I and Commissioner Lockwood and Jeff (Rinaldo) have zero tolerance for this,” Flynn said.

The arrests also highlight the recently passed “Raise the Age” legislation. Flynn said that if the individuals had a weapon or if the victims were hurt, the two boys could be tried as adults and is pushing for that.

Cole will return to court on Monday for a felony hearing. He faces a maximum of 25 years in prison. The two boys were arraigned in youth court.

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