Salem vandalism suspect found, charged with hate crimes, police chief says

After Salem police responded to several incidents of anti-LGBTQ graffiti and vandalism appearing recently around the city, a man suspected to be behind the acts is in custody, police announced Wednesday.

Mohammed Saeed Rajab, 25, of Beverly, was arrested on five vandalism-related charges, including destruction of a place of worship and hate crimes, according to statements released by Salem police and Essex District Attorney Paul Tucker’s office.

On Sept. 13, reports were made to police of graffiti that read “Cancel LGBTQ 2024″ on a door outside of the Tabernacle Congregational Church, as well as graffiti found on the Pride flag at the Northeast Animal Shelter, on several Pride-themed crosswalks and a Pride flag torn down at Lappin Park, police said Wednesday, Sept. 20.

An investigation led Salem police to work with Beverly Police Department detectives, which led them to Rajab, police said.

Rajab pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Salem District Court on Wednesday, Tucker’s office said. He was ordered by Judge Randy Chapman to be held on $2,500, have a GPS curfew, stay out of Salem, not carry firearms or dangerous weapons and was ordered to surrender his passport.

“I am so proud of the hard work that my detectives did to resolve this case,” Salem Police Chief Lucas Miller said in the statement. “We have made this investigation our highest priority. I release that this arrest does not erase the harm caused by Mr. Rajab, but I hope that it shows the commitment that the Salem Police Department has to our friends, our neighbors and our colleagues in the LGBTQ community.”

Rajab’s pretrial hearing will be on Oct. 11.

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