Elmhurst man arrested for setting a police car on fire: Feds

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's office

An Elmhurst man was arrested on Thursday, Aug. 13, after allegedly setting an NYPD car on fire in Manhattan in July, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced on Friday.

Sam Resto, 29, was charged with arson of an NYPD vehicle after he allegedly smashed through the window of a police car, poured gasoline on its interior and set the car ablaze on July 29, according to the feds.

The day before the arson, Resto purchased gasoline from a gas station in Elmhurst, according to the criminal complaint. Using a red jerrycan, Resto bought the gas at a self-serve station and filled up the jerrycan himself, the authorities said.

On July 29, Resto took a cab from his Elmhurst home to Manhattan, and was dropped off in the vicinity of West 83rd Street and Columbus Avenue, where an NYPD vehicle was parked, the U.S. Attorney said.

Surveillance footage showed a man wearing a white mask smash the window of the unoccupied car around 3:50 a.m., pour gasoline inside it and light it on fire before running off towards Central Park, according to the complaint.

The NYPD later found a backpack they believed to belong to Resto, which contained clothing similar to the clothing worn by the man caught on the surveillance video, a red jerrycan, a hammer, lighters and a Guy Fawkes mask.

Following Resto’s arrest, police found a copy of “The Anarchist’s Cookbook,” a book with recipes for bombs and other explosive devices, according to the feds. A search of Resto’s home also revealed the words “too late,” written on the wall, which Resto later told police was to be a message to the authorities, according to the feds. Resto had planned to have fled by the time law enforcement came to arrest him.

If convicted, Resto faces up to 20 years in prison.

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