Ex-Dartmouth student charged with vandalizing menorah on Green, avoids hate crime count

  • Carlos Wilcox (Hanover Police photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/10/2021 4:08:32 PM
Modified: 12/12/2021 11:35:04 AM

HANOVER — A former Dartmouth College student has been indicted by a Grafton Superior Court grand jury for allegedly shooting out the lights on a public menorah display and college building windows with a BB gun during Hanukkah last year.

Carlos Wilcox, 20, of the Bronx, N.Y., has been charged with a Class B felony of criminal mischief. Authorities allege he damaged seven of the nine lights on a menorah set up on the Dartmouth Green as well as and college buildings on Dec. 15, 2020, according to court records.

Wilcox, who waived arraignment and is free on bail, is no longer enrolled at Dartmouth, according to college spokesperson Diana Lawrence.

“Any act of vandalism, whether targeted at a specific group or not, is deeply unsettling. We deplore violence of any kind and look forward to a just resolution of this matter,” Lawrence said via email on Thursday.

A dispositional conference is scheduled for his case on Monday. A bail order from early October prohibits Wilcox from entering the Dartmouth campus. The indictment indicates that the shooting caused more than $1,500 in damage.

At the time of the vandalism, which occurred on the seventh of the eight nights of Hanukkah, the incident was widely interpreted to be an act of antisemitism during the sacred religious holiday.

But authorities investigating the incident said they did not have enough evidence to press a hate crime charge, which under New Hampshire law would provide for increased penalties upon conviction.

“Certainly if this was a hate crime, it would have been so charged,” Hanover Police Chief Charles Dennis said Thursday. “The evidence was not there.”

Wilcox did not respond to a request for comment and forwarded the email to his attorney, S. Amy Spencer with the New Hampshire law firm Shaheen & Gordon, who replied via mail, “we have no comment at this time.”

Hanover police, who investigated the Dartmouth vandalism, initially did not have much to go on other than video taken from a security camera at the Hanover Inn, which showed two individuals walking north toward the Dartmouth Green around 8 p.m. on Dec. 15. One of them is carrying what police at the time termed “an object” that is long and narrow, resembling the shape of a rifle.

Although the video cameras did not capture the vandalism occurring, police said a witness reported seeing two people cross the road and then hearing a noise that sounded like a pellet gun firing.

Dennis said the investigation into Wilcox’s involvement is concluded, but he declined to say if Hanover police are continuing to investigate any other individual’s involvement.

The vandalism of the menorah shook the Dartmouth and Upper Valley Jewish community and brought forth the specter of antisemitism, said Rabbi Moshe Gray, executive director of Chabad at Dartmouth, the student center of Judaism and fellowship.

That the alleged perpetrator turned out to be a Dartmouth student is disheartening, Gray said.

“The assumption was that it was some random kids from the Upper Valley,” he said. “When people found out it was a Dartmouth student, it brought an extra level of sadness.”

Grafton County Attorney Marcie Hornick could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Although Wilcox is not being charged with a hate crime, Gray is unsure whether that would provide everyone with a sense of relief.

“I don’t know if everyone buys it,” he said, adding, “I personally would like to see some restorative justice.”

The vandalism of the menorah only led to a more poignant celebration this year, Gray explained, when more than 100 people gathered on the Dartmouth Green on the first night of Hanukkah on Sunday, Nov. 28, to light the first candle.

Although Gray said he had purchased a new 9-foot menorah for this year’s holiday (and talked of purchasing a 12-foot-tall menorah), he was surprised and filled with gratitude when he learned that a member of Dartmouth’s facilities department had “taken it upon himself” to repair the damaged menorah.

“When I made the announcement I said, ‘I promised a bigger menorah but this year we have a better menorah,’ ” Gray said he told the assembly on the Green on the Nov. 28 celebration.

Meanwhile, the newly purchased 9-foot menorah was stored away. But not for long.

“Next year we’ll have two menorahs,” Gray said.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.




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