A 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with arson, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment after trying to burn an American flag outside a bar in Midtown Manhattan late at night after the Fourth of July, according to court documents.
Court documents indicate that Jeffrey Schorfheide, 26, was caught on surveillance camera using a lighter to torch an American flag outside the Playwright Irish Pub around 4:35 a.m. on July 5.
Schorfheide reportedly confessed in a written statement that after "a number of unsuccessful attempts," the flag went up in flames and the awning outside the restaurant caught fire.
Playwright owner John Doherty said the surveillance footage showed the arsonist spent over 18 minutes trying to set the flag on fire.
"Flags are very hard to burn apparently," Doherty said.
Doherty said he was especially shocked that the alleged arsonist was an American. Doherty's American citizenship was just approved July 1.
"It was extra special for me, putting a flag up outside the bar," he said.
According to Doherty, the surveillance footage shows several people and cars passing as the scene unfolded between 4:35 and 5 a.m. He was appalled that no witnesses intervened.
"The wrong people were walking past, if you know what I'm saying," he said. "The right person wouldn't have done that."
In fact, the fire department was never even called, Doherty said: the fire was discovered by one of Doherty's porters, Angel Campos, and a busboy, Mazum Hussain. They were horrified when they saw the flag burning and rushed to put it out with buckets of water and a hose.
"They saved the day," Doherty said. "They may have saved the whole block."
Doherty said repairing the damage has already cost him $4,000.
Schorfheide's attorney at the Legal Aid Society referred questions to the organization's press office. A press officer did not immediately respond.
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