NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A shocking video circulating on Twitter shows the city’s fireworks problem taking a dangerous and cruel twist.
Many are calling the crime especially depraved.
Police are looking for the suspect who threw a firework at a sleeping homeless man.
“That’s sad,” said Chad Walton. For many New Yorkers like him, watching the video of an innocent homeless man being lit on fire is beyond heartbreaking, reported CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.
“People don’t see value in other people,” he added.
Video shows a man throwing a lit firework onto a sleeping homeless man at around 4 a.m. Monday at Lenox Avenue near 113th Street.
The firework sizzles and then explodes on the man.
The victim, 66, suffered minor burn injuries, police said.
Earlier yesterday morning, a homeless male was sleeping on the sidewalk in front of 67 Lenox Avenue, in the confines of the 28 pct, when he was attacked. The male pictured above threw a lit firework on him, which exploded causing burns to the victims back. pic.twitter.com/gUZhbLznGT
— Chief Rodney Harrison (@NYPDDetectives) June 23, 2020
“Crazy. I mean who would do something like that?” said Jeffrey Blackman, who works in Harlem.
“This is horrible thing to do,” said Harlem resident Nana Simpara.
“You feel bad the homeless man was even here to begin with?” asked CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.
“Yes! yes! Because he should’ve been, with this whole epidemic, they should be taking care of the homeless first. But they don’t,” said Harlem resident Beatrice Drayton.
Authorities say the homeless man was treated and released from the hospital.
“When you see something disgusting like that, knowing what’s going on right now, that’s crazy,” said Harlem resident Tyreke Cole
“It’s like, what did we go out there and protest for if we came back here and did this to each other?” said Tyquan.
“When you’re tearing down your own people, it’s like, what example are you setting?” said Tyreke.
The disturbing incident comes amid a massive increase in fireworks complaints across the city.
Since January 1, there have been at least 11,535 311 complaints due to illegal fireworks in New York. That’s compared to just 54 during the same period last year. Nearly half of the complaints – 4,559 – were in Brooklyn during June alone.
On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a multi-agency task force to conduct sting operations targeting those selling illegal fireworks. The task force will consist of 10 NYPD officers, 12 FDNY Fire Marshals and 20 members of the Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
“Illegal fireworks are both dangerous and a public nuisance” said de Blasio. “We’re cracking down on this activity at the source to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers and the ability of our neighbors to get some sleep.”
Tuesday morning, the NYPD walked up and down Lenox Avenue, putting up Crimestoppers posters to help find the suspect.
The NYPD Is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest in this case.
Anyone with any 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). You can also submit a tip via their website or on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls are kept confidential.