Chasidic Students Not Target Of Midtown Firebombing; Arrest Made


Police have arrested a man on charges of attempted murder for throwing a Molotov cocktail at a Midtown street corner where two chasidic students were standing.

Fifty-three year-old Thomas Miles of Jamacia Hills, Queens, was charged with throwing a glass bottle filled with alcohol and topped with a burning rag at three men standing at the corner of Ninth Avenue and West 37th Street on Oct. 9.

Two of the men were 20-year-old Israeli students, studying at a Lubavitch yeshiva in Crown Heights. The third man was a 44-year-old businessman.

The students were encouraging bypassing Jewish men to put on tefillin just after 1:30 p.m. on that Friday afternoon, when, witnesses told police, a man who “appeared to be intoxicated” and white, yelled “I want to kill you,” before throwing the bottle “in the general vicinity” of the students, an NYPD spokesman said.

In a security camera video released by police, Miles is shown walking down the street, swaying as though drunk, and carefully holding a small brown paper bag.

The bottle hit a parked bicycle and burst into flames, according to Barry Sugar, president of the Crown Heights-based Jewish Leadership Council, an independent organization that monitors anti-Semitic attacks in the area.

After the bottle exploded, severely damaging the bike, two men came out of a nearby shop and poured a bucket of water on the fire. They then removed the bike and swept up the debris before police arrived, Sugar said in a statement.

Although police originally investigated the attack as a “possible hate crime,” they have since determined that the suspect wasn’t aiming at the students but rather at someone else on the corner.

Miles was arrested today and charged with three counts of attempted murder; nine counts of attempted felony assault, two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, and three counts of reckless endangerment, police said.