Brooklyn arson of Jewish school bus being probed as possible hate crime

The Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn. Credit: David Wilson via

( Police are seeking five black youths who were captured on video torching a Jewish school bus in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood, the same neighborhood where tensions between the black and Jewish communities led to riots in the early 1990s.

One 11-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with juvenile offenses for arson and criminal mischief relating to the fire, which was set on Sunday, while the other boys remain at large. The crime is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

The torched school bus belonged to a Jewish school for girls, the Bnos Chomesh Academy. "It was purposefully done with prior planning," New York Police Department Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said, the Associated Press reported. "Clearly this was a religious school bus. Anyone in the community knows that."

The arson is the third recent incident being investigated as a possible hate crime against Jews in the neighborhood. Last Friday, a bus driver for a different Jewish school said his side mirror was smashed. A day earlier, a religious Jewish man said he was harassed by a teenage boy who shot rubber bands at him. After the Jewish man chased the boy, the boy punched the man in the face. The man, however, was able to hold the boy until police arrived and arrested him for assault.

Boyce called the incidents "troubling” and said authorities are “hoping to get out in front of it and make these arrests and close these things out.”

In August 1991 in Crown Heights, after the child of a Guyanese immigrant died from being unintentionally struck by a car that was part of a motorcade belonging to the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community, subsequent race riots led to the killing of 29-year-old Jewish man Yankel Rosenbaum.

Posted on May 11, 2016 .