By Tim Harfmann and Andrew Pugliese
HOLLIS — Police arrested Nasra Alnadrahi, 69, a resident of Jamaica, Queens, on Sept. 22 on charges of criminal mischief, trespassing and possession of burglar’s tools connected to three incidents of vandalism at Shrine Church of St. Gerard Majella, Hollis, this month.
Alnadrahi was apprehended by police while she was attempting to open a locked gate at the church. She was found with a bag containing a hammer.
She identified herself as the woman in surveillance video from the morning of the first incident on Sept. 10, according to police. The other two incidents occurred on Sept. 16 and 17.
Alnadrahi was arraigned on the charges in Queens County Criminal Court on Sept. 23.
“I’ve been going there for over two weeks to sit down and have coffee,” Alnadrahi said, according to court documents. “It was black magic that made me do it.”
The vandalism caused about $12,000 in damages to St. Gerard Majella’s prayer garden in the parish’s parking lot across from the church.
“Thank God she was found and no NYPD officers were hurt, and the church was not further hurt,” Father JosephJude Gannon, the pastor, said.
Father Gannon announced the news of the arrest at Sunday Mass on Sept. 22 to applause, followed by parishioners sharing hugs.
“It’s a big opportunity for renewal and reenergizing our community after a couple of weeks of darkness and destruction,” Father Gannon said. “We can start fresh.”
After Mass, many parishioners walked across the street to pray before the statue of the Blessed Mother, still standing after two weeks of vandalism. Father Gannon said parishioners are praying for justice and for the woman, too.
“We need to pray for her because we’re a forgiving people,” Father Gannon said. “We need to pray that whatever is dark in her can see the light of the Gospel. We need to pray for the intercession of Mary.”
Sept. 22 was already a special day for St. Gerard Majella’s. The parish kicked off the new religious education year and blessed its new welcome center. Father Gannon said the last few weeks had been tough on him and the parishioners. Now, they are relieved.
The parish plans to have the prayer garden —a project funded by the parish Generations of Faith appeal — restored by the end of this year. Someone has already donated a brand-new TV to be auctioned off with the proceeds going toward the project. Besides, the parish has a Shrine Garden Society already in place to maintain the garden. More families have been joining the group since the incidents occurred, according to the pastor.
While an arrest has been made, the police investigation is ongoing at this time.