NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There is new cause for concern after police said new surveillance video of a suspect wanted in a series of arsons in Forest Hills, Queens, shows the man carrying a gun. Meanwhile, cops are investigating whether several smaller fires in the area could be the work of the same arsonist.
Police released the home surveillance video Thursday morning. They said it shows the suspect near the area of a fire on Nov. 8, police said.READ MORE: Trump Says His 'Journey' Is 'Far From Being Over' In First Major Public Speech Since Leaving Office
The man, who is wearing gloves and has his face covered, can be seen moving a handgun from his left ankle to the right pocket of his hooded sweatshirt minutes before a fire was set to a home near 112th Street and 68th Drive, police said.
The video was given to police by homeowner Eli Solomon on Wednesday after he realized his surveillance camera captured the suspect.
“They looked at it. They said it’s a very good clue,” Solomon told reporters, including CBS2’s Janelle Burrell and 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “I hope it’s going to help the cops to catch the guy.”
It’s the latest surveillance video of the man who police said is responsible for at least seven fires since October in the largely Bukharian Jewish community.
The most recent happened Sunday on 69th Road near the Grand Central Parkway.
“It’s scary because you don’t know who will be hit next,” resident Yuriy Khamov said.
“It’s terrible. It’s wrong,” said resident Scott Friedman. “People could be hurt. There are children in neighboring homes. He has to stop.”
Investigators have the suspect on camera in two other instances around homes that were torched, all of them under construction or undergoing renovation.
“We have a task force working together,” said fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. “We believe it is one person. We believe we will find him soon.”
Police have increased patrols in the area using both uniformed and plainclothes officers. They’re using technology such as license-plate readers and cameras.
Yet right under their noses — outside the 112th Precinct station house — the trash outside for pickup was intentionally set on fire, police told CBS2’s Alice Gainer.
Other suspicious small fires popped up at other dumpsters in the area.
Police are checking surveillance video and looking into whether they’re connected to the seven arson fires, a copycat or something else.
“I think he’s picking his opportunities,” said Frank Hancock, who lives in the neighborhood.
Residents are determined to stop him, even if it means money out of their own pockets.
“I see more cops, more security,” said Solomon. “We’re trying to raise money to get more private surveillance in the neighborhood.”
No one has been hurt in the fires, and police have said there is no evidence suggesting the arsons are a hate crime.
A $12,500 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.MORE NEWS: FDNY: 3 Injured In Manhole Fire In Midtown; Con Ed Crews Remain On Scene
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477), visit NYPDCrimeStoppers.com or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.