Brooklyn Landlord Arrested For Allegedly Setting Fire To Building Where Residents Refused To Vacate
A Brooklyn landlord has been arrested after allegedly burning down a building he owns to force residents to vacate, CBS News reports. Rafiqul Islam now faces assault, arson, and eight counts of attempted murder charges for the incident that occurred on Sept. 26.
Investigators allege that Islam set the fire in response to the refusal of second-floor residents to either pay rent or move off of the premises. Fire marshals claim that the fire began on an interior staircase of the building, located on Forbell Street in the Cypress Hills area, according to the outlet.
“When the fire first started, people speculated it was him,” one resident said. “I just see him usually just walking around, going house to house to the houses that he owns, but I’m just shocked that he got arrested.”
Eight people were said to be on the premises when the fire was started, causing two adults to jump from the roof of the building while first responders and neighbors rescued six children.
Islam was allegedly discovered on video by fire marshals who claim the man wore a hooded sweatshirt and a mask when he arrived to start the fire, Fox 59 reports. Before the fire, Islam threatened to turn off the tenant’s gas and electricity, as well as allegedly discussed burning the building down.
“Marshals spent four weeks conducting an extensive video canvas to verify the suspect’s identity, before finally finding an image of Islam with his hood and mask down,” the Fire Department of the City of New York said.
Islam was arrested on Oct. 26; however, this is not the first time a landlord in the borough of Brooklyn has faced consequences for a fire-related incident involving residents. Evener Leon was charged with second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, second-degree reckless engagement, and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child in 2019. Eight adults and two children were trapped inside, forcing a 70-year-old resident to jump to his death. Leon was sentenced to six months in jail, according to the New York Daily News.