NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A 14-year-old boy was arrested and charged late Friday in connection with one in a series of attacks on women whose clothing was set on fire in Midtown.
The boy, whose name was not released, was charged with second-degree attempted assault and aggravated harassment, and first-degree harassment, all as hate crimes, police said. He was accused in an attack that happened Saturday at 127 W. 42nd St. — one of five this past weekend.
Police indicated that the boy was the one who appeared in surveillance video wearing a white shirt and headphones. They earlier identified another suspect.
Police late Friday were also looking for four others, one male and three females, who were seen walking behind them around the time of the attacks. Police are calling them persons of interest.
All of the incidents happened Saturday night in Midtown.
“There are, between 8 o’clock at night and 10 o’clock at night, there was five incidents with five different women,” Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. “We’re investigating each one.”
Investigators were first tipped off about the incidents by a Muslim woman visiting from Scotland.
The woman, who was wearing traditional Muslim clothing, was walking by the Valentino store on Fifth Avenue when police said her blouse was set on fire. She patted out the flames and noticed a man standing next to her with a lighter in his hand, police said.
It was initially suspected to be a hate crime until the other victims of other races began coming forward, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
The other alleged attacks include a woman who was walking on Fifth Avenue near 57th Street when someone tried to light her leg on fire, a teenage girl who was walking with her mother on West 42nd Street when someone tried to set her shirt on fire and woman whose skirt was set on fire by someone in group who passed her on 54th Street and Fifth Avenue.
In addition, another woman was heading down to the Bryant Park subway station when police said a man was holding a lit lighter close to her arm.
Police hope the surveillance images of the remaining suspect and the others with them will help investigators identify the individuals.
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782), visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.