11-Year-Old Boy Charged With Hate Crime After Setting Jewish School Bus on Fire in Brooklyn (VIDEO)
An 11-year-old boy has been charged with a hate crime after setting a Jewish school bus ablaze in Brooklyn, the New York Daily News reported on Monday.
The African-American youngster was charged with criminal mischief and arson, both as hate crimes. Police said the arson took place on Sunday evening while the bus was parked on Brooklyn Avenue in Crown Heights, outside the private girls school, Beth Rivkah.
Security video shows five children running into the bus with pieces of cardboard. Shortly afterwards the kids flee the scene and smoke is billowing from the bus, which soon becomes engulfed in flames. A witness confirmed seeing a group four or five African-American children, between the ages of 10 and 15, on board the parked bus, Yeshiva World News reported.
Local Jewish volunteer patrol group Shomrim received a call about the fire and the suspects. Volunteers who arrived on the scene located the boys within minutes but they denied involvement in the fire when police arrived. A witness initially identified them, but later said she was not sure if they were the boys responsible for the crime. Police took down their information and are reviewing surveillance footage from the scene.
No one was injured in the incident.
According to Yeshiva World News, firefighters responded swiftly and extinguished the blaze, but not before it had caused significant damage to the bus, operated by BSD Trans Corp, a local Jewish-owned company. Leon Yavich, who owns the company, said he thinks it is too early to know what motivated the perpetrators.
“I am not going to jump the gun and accuse these kids of a hate crime,” said Yavich, 54. “I will not accuse them of a hate crime simply for the fact that I have not spoken to them. My bus doesn’t have any Jewish markings. It doesn’t belong to the Yeshiva.”
Authorities are searching for the other four boys who participated in the crime, the New York Daily News reported. NYPD Officer Vinny Martinos, from the 71st Precinct, told local blog COLLive, “We will be increasing police coverage and visibility in the Jewish area.”
Police sources said another Jewish school bus was targeted in a crime that took place on Thursday, less than a mile away from the fire scene. Insiders said a bus driver told police he was driving down Eastern Parkway when someone threw a brick at his bus, shattering the driver-side mirror. A separate attack took place on Friday, in which a group of African-American teenagers threw rocks and stones at a Jewish man in Crown Heights before hitting him with a heavy steel stick.
Watch the scene of the fire in the video below: