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NYPD: Woman sought after Pride flag set on fire outside Little Prince restaurant in SoHo

NYPD searching for woman captured on video lighting Pride flag on fire
NYPD searching for woman captured on video lighting Pride flag on fire 02:01

NEW YORK -- New video shows the person police are searching for who they say lit a Pride flag on fire outside a SoHo restaurant.

The NYPD is investigating the incident as a hate crime.

The footage shows a white van pull up to The Little Prince restaurant on Prince Street at around 1:30 a.m. on Monday. Police say a woman gout out of the vehicle, took out a lighter and set the flag on fire.

The flames spread to an apartment building above, where Samira Qureshi lives. She saw the video for the first time and said, "Oh my gosh, crazy!" and added "I smelled smoke heard cops, firefighters."

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Qureshi said she and her neighbors had to evacuate. People in the area said they can't believe it was an intentional act.

"It's absolutely beyond belief someone would do that," resident Andrew Corn said.

"I hope they find this woman and arrest her. It seems she should be tried for arson and hate crimes," Lisa Corn added.

The restaurant was closed at the time, but an employee told CBS2 one worker was still inside cleaning up. No injuries were reported.

"You really can't make sense of it because, why? You know, for what?" Asli Fevzi said.

A picture of the flag hanging over the front entrance before it was burned read, "Make America Gay Again."

"It's always been a nice, comforting thing to everyone in this neighborhood because it means it's diverse and open neighborhood and the fact that someone would burn it that down is horrific," Stu Matz said.

An employee told CBS2 what happened Monday wasn't the first time the restaurant had been targeted. A few months ago, another pride flag was stolen.

"Sadly, we're used to it, used to hate, and I can't believe it's still going on," Fevzi said.

On Monday afternoon, a new Pride flag was raised. Residents say it shows the restaurant and neighborhood refuse to be intimidated.

"I'm gonna make sure we come and eat here, anything else we can do to show support," Andrew Corn said.

State Attorney General Letitia James tweeted, "New York will not allow blatant acts of hate against our communities. Anyone with information about the individual that commited this crime should contact the NYPD immediately."

Anyone with any information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit a tip via their website or via DM on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls are kept confidential.  

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