A suspect is in custody after a 35-year-old woman wearing traditional Muslim garb was set on fire in Midtown Manhattan over the weekend, authorities said, but police are looking to question five more suspects.
NYPD said they are looking for information on a second male, who was last seen wearing a white t-shirt and head phones, plus an additional male and three females.
The Scottish tourist was not hurt in the attack which occurred around 9 p.m Saturday near Valentino, a boutique, on 5th Avenue and East 55th Street. The woman felt heat on her left arm and was able to douse the flames on her blouse, a police said.
“She saw [the suspect] pull a lighter away and walk away,” a source told the New York Daily News. “He doesn’t say anything.”
The suspect got away, but the woman was able to get a look at him before he fled east on 54th Street, police said.
NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is determining whether or not the incident, which occurred on the weekend of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, was motivated by bias against Muslims.
“I would obviously be concerned because it’s symptomatic of the overall rise in Islamophobic sentiment in our society,” Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the Daily News. “That’s based on the spike across the country in hate crimes and hate incidents, in recent days and over the past year.”
Since this attack was reported, police said four other incidents were reported in which a teen or group of teens attampted to light women on fire.
On Monday, Valentino security guards told the Daily News the police believe the woman might have been set on fire on another avenue, but came to 5th Avenue to look for help.
“It’s crazy,’’ an employee at Savitt Partners, a real estate agency firm next door, told the Daily News. “It’s always crowded around here. Even at night time it’s busy.”
Police are asking that anyone who has information on any of the events above contact the tip line 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) or dial 911.