Boy, 14, Arrested in Midtown Fire Attack; Cops Still Searching for 5 Others

Police believe a group of teens stalked midtown for two hours Saturday night, trying to light women on fire

What to Know

  • At least four women were attacked by a group of teens in midtown last weekend, police say
  • Police released new images of teens wanted in connection with the attacks Friday
  • Although one of the women was dressed in Muslim attire, sources say it appears this is a gender bias case more than a religious hate crime

Police say they've arrested a 14-year-old boy in one of the fire attacks targeting women in midtown Manhattan last weekend. 

The boy was part of a group of three teenage boys and three teenage girls who set fire to the clothing of six women in five different incidents Saturday night, police say. Authorities are still searching for the other five suspects. 

Police believe the group stalked midtown for two hours Saturday night, trying to light women on fire. Six women were attacked from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, according to police. 

The first attack was on 42nd Street near Bryant Park, when the teens approached a teenage tourist from California, sources said. They tried to burn her shirt from behind and the girl turned around when she felt something. When her mother turned to confront them, they ran away. 

That's the incident in which the 14-year-old boy is facing charges of hate crime attempted assault, hate crime aggravated harassment and hate crime harassment, police say. It's not clear why the incident was considered a hate crime.

Then, about a mile away near Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, a woman was window shopping when one teen tried to light her clothing on fire, sources said. She turned around and the boy fled back to the group. 

Shortly afterward, the Muslim woman's clothing was set on fire. The 35-year-old tourist from Scotland was window-shopping near East 54th Street at the time. 

Just one minute later, the group of teens walked past a woman at the intersection of East 54th Street and Fifth Avenue, and she suddenly began patting her skirt to put out the flame, sources said. 

And finally, they targeted two women walking side by side into the Bryant Park subway station, trying to set fire to their sleeves. 

Law enforcement sources said of all six victims, only one was wearing Muslim attire. 

Police have released surveillance video of at least one of the suspects. They're asking anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS. 

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