Watch CBS News

Community Comes Together To Track Down Forest Hills Serial Arsonist

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Queens neighborhood is on edge as police continue to look for the person wanted in a series of arsons.

Politicians, police officials and community leaders gathered at the Bukharian Jewish Community Center on Tuesday. Their goal is to work together to apprehend a serial arsonist who police say has torched seven homes in Forest Hills in six weeks, CBS2's Mark Morgan reported.

Mayor Bill de Blasio called the arson attacks "deeply disturbing."

"Every resident in our city should feel safe and protected in their local community, and we will not allow one dangerous individual to shatter this community's sense of security," de Blasio said in a statement. "FDNY and NYPD are taking every step to quickly find and arrest the perpetrator of these dangerous crimes."

The latest fire broke out just after midnight Sunday at a home that was under construction on 69th Road near the Grand Central Parkway.

Police have stepped up patrols in the area, which borders Queens Boulevard and Grand Central Parkway. They have also been reviewing surveillance video which shows a potential suspect walking by at the site of an arson fire the night before Thanksgiving.

"Right now I have the arson explosion squad, supplemented by the major case squad," NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. "Those are, I think, the best detectives in the city plugged into this."

"I lay in my bed at night and hear those fire engines going past my house and I say, 'Oh no, not another one,'" New York City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz said. "We have to catch the person that's creating these fires."

"It's in their backyard," Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo said. "It's a question of fear and right now people are very concerned in their own community about what's next."

"The community stands together in making sure that we find this arsonist that is out there destroying not only people's homes, but people's live and people's dreams," Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said.

Boyce said local participation is key.

"Trying to tap into community sources that we need to solve this crime," Boyce said. "We're going to solve this crime together."

Residents said they are frustrated and nervous.

They are being asked to turn their surveillance cameras outward to capture street activity and hopefully a suspect.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.