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Family of Pittsford man accused of hate crime says he has mental illness

(Photo: Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

Pittsford, N.Y. - The family of the the Pittsford man now charged with several hate crimes after allegedly targeting an Indian family is saying he suffers from a mental illness.

Vincent Randazzese's family has been in contact with WHAM 1180's talk show host Bob Lonsberry. They said Randazzese has been hospitalized several times for mental illness.

However, his racist and offensive language has people in the community upset and rallying behind the victim and his family.

"We want to move immediately and get a note to them," said Bob Bonn of Brighton. "Just a symbolic symbol for them to say they're not alone. That there are so many of us who want to put our arms around them and let them know that this one incident is horrible."

Bonn said he was outraged a Pittsford family of Indian descent was the target of a hate crime. Randazzese is accused of screaming racist and offensive language as the family was walking along the Erie Canal.

When the father tried to called 911, Randazzese allegedly snatched the man's cell phone and threw it into the canal.

"It appears that there may be some type of mental health problem going on here," said Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn. "I'm not a doctor, and I don't have his medical history here. He can bring it up to the prosecution, but he did violate the law, and we do take it seriously. We do feel strongly in making the arrest and making sure justice is served."

Court documents show Randazzese's comments include repeated use of the "N word" and profanity-laced slurs, saying the victim had no right to be in this country.

Bonn said incidents like these are symptoms of a larger conversation about race.

"Collectively, we have, not to minimize this, we have much deeper issues that, generally, we don't focus on in this community - especially people of my pigmentation," he said. "It affects all of us; it affects me. It affects people who live in privilege and fortune, on different types of levels and moral levels."

The organizer of the group Pittsforward, Kendra Evans, tells 13WHAM they are working with local government to put systems in place to make Pittsford more, "inclusive and safe for all."

"I think, right now, we’re all barraged by divisive language and a spirit of animosity towards one another," said Evans. "And so, right now, I think what’s important is to remember how to act on the individual level while putting protocols in place for systemic change."

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