TOWN OF NIAGARA, N.Y. (WKBW) — A 60-year-old man is facing a hate crime charge after a Town of Niagara family's fence was vandalized with violent, racist graffiti.
The Niagara County Sheriff's Office announced 60-year-old Howard Murphy of the Town of Niagara has been arrested and charged with second-degree criminal mischief as a hate crime after the violent racist graffiti was found on the fence Monday.
Niagara County District Attorney Brian Seaman said with the hate crime designation, the crime was raised from a D felony to a C felony. This is the most serious charge they could have brought in this case. The case is also being reviewed at the federal level to determine if any further charges are warranted.
EDITOR'S NOTE: 7 News has chosen to use Murphy's mugshot in accordance with our station mugshot policy due to the nature of the accusations and the felony charge he faces. You can read our full mugshot policy here.
The victim, Johnny Parks, tells 7 News Murphy is a neighbor of his. The sheriff's office said an order of protection has been requested in this case.
7 News met with Parks and his family Monday after The Home Depot volunteered to replace the vandalized fence, "it's something that you never want to see at your home or anywhere else," said Parks.
Murphy is being held at the Niagara County Correctional Facility pending centralized arraignment. The district attorney's office said due to NYS bail reform, the judge does not have the ability to hold Murphy on bail. The judge is required to release Murphy on his own recognizance or with non-monetary conditions.
"There is no place for this in our community or anywhere else, so if you think this is a good idea I would tell you to think twice because we're going to put all of our resources together to bring this to closure with an arrest," said Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti.