Investigation Into Midtown Fire Attacks Continues As Police Charge Teen With Hate Crimes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are still looking for several people in connection with a series of attacks on women whose clothes were set on fire in Midtown after a teen was arrested Friday for his alleged role in one of the incidents.

The 14-year-old boy, whose name was not released, was charged as a juvenile with second-degree attempted assault and aggravated harassment and first-degree harassment, all as hate crimes, police said.

The teen was seen wearing a white shirt and headphones on surveillance video released by police along with another suspect, who was seen in a black tank top, authorities said.

Investigators are also still looking for four others, one male and three females, who were seen walking behind the suspects around the time of the attacks. Police are calling them persons of interest.

All of the incidents happened between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. last Saturday in Midtown, police said.

The 14-year-old boy was arrested for his alleged role in the first incident, which happened inside Bryant Park. Police said he allegedly tried to light a teen girl’s T-shirt on fire before being chased away by her mother.

Then 45 minutes later, police said someone ignited a lighter next to woman’s leg at Fifth Avenue and 56th Street. She was startled, but not burned.

Just before 9 p.m., police said a woman, who was wearing traditional Muslim clothing, was walking by the Valentino store on Fifth Avenue when her blouse was set on fire. She patted out the flames and noticed a male standing next to her with a lighter in his hand, police said.

Minutes later, police said a woman’s skirt was set on fire by someone in a group who passed her on 54th Street and Fifth Avenue.

Then at 10 p.m, police said lighters were sparked near the arms of two women as they walked into the 42nd Street Bryant Park subway station. Neither woman was burned and the suspects got away.

The incidents have left some people edge.

“I think that’s crazy,” one woman told WCBS 880’s John Metaxas. “I don’t know, this world is becoming crazy.”

“Of course it worries me, because you never know who is around,” another woman told 1010 WINS’ Samantha Liebman.

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 or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.


One Comment

  1. Johnny says:

    It’s time for a change. Generation of Today is to CONSUMED by the streets. Generation wants to be BAD. BRING BACK THE DRAFT. Generation don’t want to follow nobody, but their own PEERS. This Country only HAS A HANDFUL OF GOOD QUALITY PEOPLE. That’s a small MARGIN comparing to those that worked most of all their lives Busty their BUTTS and for What? To get ROBBED. Are you KIDDING? LOOK AT THE PICTURE. We are already at WAR with ourselves because everybody scared. Who’s Good? Who’s Bad? It’s Sad.

  2. The Facts says:

    Your usual suspects again!

  3. Kate says:

    Time to stop the nonsense of charging teens as juveniles. The punks want to run with the bigger perps, it’s adult court. Their court appointed attorney (with “Mom” crying in the background) wants to say his client “needs a program, not incarceration …” should just sit down. I’ll give you a “program” punk, military style boot camp: wake up time of 5:15 a.m., no computer, no phone, no headphones, uniforms that you wash & iron, school, chores. Real discipline, that’s what you need. Run your mouth and get demerits. 1 letter a month from home. Restitution to be paid to the victim. Forget trying to run away – “camp” is located deep in the back country of Wyoming, or Arizona. Wanna play with lighters and think it’s funny – we’ll use you and your punk homies to be the victims in the exercises run at fire academies where the firefighters are trained to search through heavy smoke & fire to see if there are survivors.

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