Boy, 11, Charged With Hate Crimes After Setting Bus on Fire: NYPD

Police say the driver had left the door unlocked and the boy set the fire inside. There was no one on the bus at the time

An 11-year-old boy is facing hate crime charges after authorities say he and other boys set a Jewish school bus on fire in Brooklyn.

The NYPD says police received a 911 call around 6 p.m. Sunday of a fire outside the Bnos Chomesh Academy, a girls' high school in Crown Heights where students graduate with a New York State Board of Regents diploma and Judaic Studies diploma.

Surveillance footage from the school obtained by CrownHeights.Info shows five boys running in the yellow bus's open door and loading the vehicle up with cardboard.

Several of the boys can then  be seen running out of the vehicle, which doesn't appear to be clearly marked as a Yeshiva bus, while two other boys set the fire. One then hangs around and watches the bus burn, and the rest of them briefly run back to the door before all five flee. 

One of the boys was arrested after a witness saw the blaze and called 911. The child is facing charges of arson as a hate crime and criminal mischief as a hate crime.

As police search for the other children seen in the video, Jewish neighbors wonder if their faith was a target.

"There is a certain fear within the community, a fear of safety, a concern of safety. A concern for my kids who travel on that bus to and from school," said Shea Hecht, who is chairman of the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education. 

"The tragedy could have been way, way greater," said Hecht, noting many students go to school there on Sunday. 

"God forbid some kids would have been killed from being burned?" said neighbor Jefferson Levi of Crown Heights. "Because the driver did leave the scene. What would have happened?" 

Anyone with information about the blaze should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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