No evidence Long Grove vandalism a hate crime
A 52-year-old man accused of throwing a brick and rock through the window of a Muslim family’s Long Grove home has a history of mental illness and reportedly moved to the area six months ago to “get away from the voices in his head,” authorities said Thursday.
Michael J. Lamendella of Long Grove was ordered held on $50,000 bond on a felony charge of criminal damage to property stemming from the vandalism Wednesday.
Victim Zuhdi Abdallah told ABC 7 he fears his family was targeted by Lamendella because of their faith, and he’d previously seen the suspect watching his home. Abdallah was unavailable when contacted at his home Thursday.
However, both Lake County’s top prosecutor and Lamendella attorney Doug Zeit said there is no evidence it was a hate crime.
Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said there is no indication Lamendella was motivated by the victims’ faith, or even knew they are Muslim.
“This is not a hate crime at all,” Zeit said after Lamendella appeared in court Thursday morning. “It’s a terrible misunderstanding. My client made certain mistakes, but this is not a hate crime. He has no animosity toward anyone.”
Assistant Lake County States Attorney Lisa LeBoeuf said the brick and the rock caused $7,000 in damage to the Abdallah home, but added Lamendella checked to make sure no one was on the other side of the door before hurling the items.
LeBoeuf said Lamendella did not know the people living inside the home, but told police he “was contacted by an individual working for Donald Trump” and that the “head of the Irish Mafia Christian Terrorists lived in that house.”
Lake County Judge George Strickland said in court that at some point Lamendella will need a mental health exam.
If Lamendella posts bond, he will be required to live under a 24-hour curfew, refrain from using drugs or alcohol, cannot possess weapons, and is not allowed contact with the owners of the home he’s accused of damaging.
According to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lamendella was walking his dog Wednesday afternoon when he stopped at the Abdallah home and banged hard on the front door. He hurled the brick and rock through the window, then left and continued walking his dog, sheriff’s police said.
The charge against Lamendella is a Class 4 felony that could put him behind bars for up to three years if he’s convicted. Probation also would be possible.
Lamendella is scheduled to return to court April 11.