Man Charged With Attempted Murder After Jamaica Apartment Fire, NYPD Says

DNA Info - October 05, 2016

by Rachel Silberstein and Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

JAMAICA — An emotionally disturbed man was arrested for starting an explosive blaze that erupted at a Queens apartment building Monday afternoon, law enforcement officials said. Sahahed Harun's mother called 911 at approximately 3:22 p.m., telling officers that her son was inside her third-story apartment at 162-05 89th Avenue, and had threatened to set it on fire, NYPD Chief Assistant Chief David Barrere said during an evening press conference.

When police officers approached the apartment, they heard an explosion, Barrere said. Moments later, officers saw Harun inside the apartment with burns on his face and his lower extremities, officials said.

Harun, 29, who has an extensive history of psychiatric problems and one sealed arrest, was taken into custody and transported to Nassau University Medical Center for treatment, police said.

Harun was later charged with attempted murder, arson and reckless endangerment, police said.

About 106 firefighters were called in to battle the fire and the six-story building was evacuated, the FDNY said. Not all residents were allowed back in by the evening.

At least four people, including Harun and another resident, were injured, police said. One police officer and one firefighter were also treated for minor smoke inhalation, officials said.

The fire was concentrated in one large apartment and investigators were exploring whether an accelerant was used, FDNY Chief Ed Baggot said at the press conference.

He said authorities called the fire an explosion because "the fire was of such intensity that the window in the front and the back blew out."

Celia Carrasco, 38, who lives on the fifth floor, said she and her children heard a loud "boom" before the fire erupted.

"I looked through the window and there was an AC on the ground, it was on fire. There was a lot of smoke, I just grabbed my three kids and we ran out. I was crying,” said Carrasco.

Her son Luis Bert, 11, said he was shaken by the explosion. “I was scared, I thought the building was going to break down because of the fire,” he said.

Flames were extinguished as of 4:46 p.m., the FDNY said.

"I think we saved a lot of people from injury here,” Baggot said.