Boy, 11, four friends set fire to Jewish school bus: cops

- The NYPD is on the hunt for four boys who set fire to a school bus belonging to a Jewish school, said cops. An 11-year-old boy has already been arrested for the alleged arson and possible hate crime. The boys torched the bus Sunday evening. Surveillance video showed the group running off as it caught fire, said police.

 

The bus, belonging to the Bnos Chomesh Academy, a girls' high school in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood, remained parked outside the school Wednesday.

The arson took place in an area where tensions between the Jewish and black communities living side by side spurred riots in 1991.

Police Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said a group of five youths took flat cardboard boxes on the unlocked bus and set them on fire on the seats.

"It was purposefully done with prior planning," Boyce said. "Clearly this was a religious school bus. Anyone in the community knows that."

Cops are asking anyone with information on the wherabouts of the boys to contact the NYPD Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

The NYPD says all calls/texts are strictly confidential.

It was the third incident being investigated by police as a possible hate crime during the past week in the neighborhood. On Friday, a bus driver for a different Jewish school said his side mirror was pelted with a brick and smashed by someone.

The day before, a man dressed in religious Jewish clothing said he was harassed by a 13-year-old boy who shot rubber bands at him, police said. The man said he ran after and caught the boy, who punched him the face. Police said the man held the boy until they arrived. The boy was arrested on an assault charge and was being treated as a juvenile.

In the bus fire and in the assault, the suspects are black. The bus driver whose window was smashed said he didn't see the attacker.

Boyce said the incidents in Crown Heights are "troubling."

"We're hoping to get out in front of it and make these arrests and close these things out," he said.

In 1991, riots began after a 7-year-old black boy, Gavin Cato, was struck and killed by a driver belonging to the ultra-Orthodox Lubavitch community. Hours later, a group of blacks shouting "Get the Jew!" fatally stabbed Yankel Rosenbaum, who was visiting from Australia.

With the Associated Press

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