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NYPD: Woman Caught On Camera Pouring Gasoline, Setting Fire At Brooklyn Yeshiva In Possible Bias Crime

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Police are searching for a woman accused of setting a fire outside a Brooklyn yeshiva.

It's being investigated as a possible bias crime, CBS2's John Dias reported Friday.

Video from Avenue J in Midwood shows a woman with a portable, red gasoline canister drench the perimeter of the Yeshiva of Flatbush around 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Police said the woman ran away with the canister after lighting the fire.

Moments later, a security guard for the yeshiva doused the fire with water, quickly putting it out before it could spread. The guard saved the school from going up in flames - preventing injuries and significant damage.

brooklyn yeshiva fire arson suspect 2
(credit: NYPD)

Calls came in for what police called a "criminal mischief incident." Detectives and the NYPD's arson and explosion division reported to the scene. The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is also investigating.

The community wasn't disheartened by the size of the fire. They were bothered most by the probable intention behind it.

"I don't know what she has against us. We didn't do anything to her. We're peaceful people," one woman said.

"She had hatred, undoubtedly," an 88-year-old resident said. "I know this school very, very well. I saw it being built."

Mayor Bill de Blasio called it a "vile act."

"An attack on one of our yeshivas is an attack on all New Yorkers, and we WILL bring this person to justice," de Blasio wrote on Twitter.

Kids returned to the classroom Friday with several security guards standing by.

"It rips at the heart," another man said. "They're young students here who come here every day to grow. This school happens to be a school that feeds some of the greatest Ivy League schools in America and yeshiva programs in Israel."

brooklyn yeshiva arson suspect fire 3
(credit: NYPD)

According to the most recent numbers, hate crimes are up over 93% citywide compared to 2020. Antisemitic hate crimes are up about 45%.

"I don't understand why a lot of things happen in the world today," said another person.

School officials declined to speak on camera or issue a statement, citing an ongoing investigation.

Investigators said the woman they are looking for is about 5 feet, 4 inches tall with average build and dark hair.

Anyone with 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.

Editor's note: This story was first published Oct. 15.

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