RAMAPO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A charge of attempted murder has been added against an 18-year-old man who allegedly set a neighbor on fire in what may have been a religious dispute in a Hasidic Jewish village in Rockland County.
Ramapo police Chief Peter Brower said Monday that Shaul Spitzer of New Square was trying to burn down Aron Rottenberg’s house when both men suffered burns and were hospitalized Sunday.
WCBS 880’s Catherine Cioffi With More On The Charges
Rottenberg prayed in a nearby senior center instead of at a big synagogue in New City. Because of that choice, he may have been targeted and is now recovering from severe burns following an arson attack at his home.
“It’s about control. I mean, they want to have control of the place and he didn’t obey by their rules,” Moshe Eblaum, the victim’s son-in-law, told CBS 2’s Lou Young.
Rottenberg apparently endured rocks being throw at his house and shouted threats before the arson attack.
It’s believed Spitzer was carrying rags soaked with flammable liquid and somehow tripped an alarm as he came to the Rottenberg’s back porch.
Spitzer was caught on one of the video cameras and people inside the house came out. A struggle ensued and there was a burst of flames. By the time police got there, Rottenberg was seated on the steps badly burned.
Brower said the 43-year-old Rottenberg had third-degree burns on half his body. Spitzer had burns on his hands and arms. He now faces charges of arson, assault and attempted murder. Police did not know if he had a lawyer.
“We are not going to tolerate this. We will follow this investigation to wherever it may take as far as anyone else that may be involved,” Town Supervisor Chris St. Lawrence said.
The accused arsonist will likely be arraigned at his beside at Cornell Burn Center in Manhattan. When he’s well enough he’ll be brought back to the Rockland County Jail on charges that could get him 25 years in prison.
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