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Pittsburgh Man Arrested In Midwood Arson Case, Reportedly Had Grudge Against Brooklyn Rabbi

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Only the frames remain of three homes in Midwood after a fire destroyed them Thursday.

Now, there's been an arrest and CBS2 has learning the suspect may have been out for revenge.

Police say the man seen running off in surveillance video purposely ignited the blaze.

"He said he would destroy him reputationally and then he came to actually kill him physically," Ezra Max, the homeowner's son said.

Authorities told CBS2 the alleged arsonist, 41-year-old Matthew Karelefsky, had a long running grudge against Rabbi Max.

Matthew Karelefsky (Credit: CBS2)

The Rabbi's son said his father even had a restraining order issued against the suspect.

"I know that he had a plan to kill my dad," Max added.

No one was killed in the fire, but 14 people were injured.

Police say Karelefsky traveled to Brooklyn from Pittsburgh, where he lives and has children.

He was known at a local Yeshiva school in the Squirrel Hill area of Pennsylvania, but hasn't been seen there in a few years.

The suspect was arrested Saturday night in Midtown. It's unclear how cops tracked him down.

Meanwhile, back in the close knit community, the cleanup continues.

The Rabbi's son and his neighbors watched as crews demolished the charred remnants of their family home on East 17th Street over the weekend.

In the end though, many are just grateful to have survived.

"A lot of lives could've been a lost," neighbor Mariann Vitanza said.

The son also called the suspect deranged, saying he hopes the system provides help for the alleged arsonist and attempted killer.

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