Molotov attack not bias crime: Police

By Sadef Ali Kully

A Briarwood man has been charged with attempted murder and other related counts for allegedly throwing a makeshift Molotov cocktail at a Manhattan halal cart, according to police.

Thomas Miles, 53, of 150th Street, was brought up on attempted murder, criminal possession of a weapon, attempted assault and reckless endangerment charges Oct. 16, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Police said the incident took place the afternoon of Oct. 9, when Miles threw a glass bottle containing a flammable liquid and a burning rag in the direction of a group of men—two 19-year old Yeshiva students and the halal cart vendor—in front of 356 West 37th St.

Police said the bottle shattered on the ground and started a fire in front of the location and Miles then fled on foot, southbound on Ninth Avenue. There were no injuries incurred as a result of this incident, according to police officials.

According to the criminal complaint, the halal cart vendor asked Miles to leave the area and Miles came back and allegedly slapped him. The vendor then allegedly threw coffee at him in retaliation and a huge argument broke out. Court records said Miles walked away from the argument and came back with a Snapple bottle full of rubbing alcohol and lit it on fire before flinging it at the vendor and the two Jewish men, who were in the middle of a conversation with the vendor, according to the criminal complaint.

In a security-camera video released by police, Miles is shown walking down the street and holding a small brown paper bag.

The news of the attack quickly spread throughout the Jewish community across the city and even made the news in Israel.

Police said they initially began investigating the incident as a bias crime but later said the attack was not meant for the two Jewish students.

New York’s Jewish Leadership Council, an independent organization that monitors anti-Semitic attacks, immediately sent out a statement after the attack.

“We know the circumstances of the attack now. But we have to stay vigilant because there are a lot of people who would love to attack the Jewish community,” Barry Sugar, president of the Brooklyn-based Jewish Leadership Council, said. “Who goes around throwing firebombs?”

Miles, who was remanded, has his next court date scheduled for Oct. 21.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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