11-year-old boy charged with setting fire to school bus in Crown Heights

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
11-year-old boy charged with setting fire to school bus in Crown Heights
Tim Fleischer is live in Brooklyn with the latest details.

CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- An 11-year-old boy is accused of setting a school bus on fire while hanging out with his young friends in Brooklyn.

As many as five boys were on the parked bus when the boy lit the fire just after 6 p.m. Sunday night outside a Jewish elementary school on Lefferts Avenue in the Crown Heights section, police say.

The school bus, privately owned, went up like an inferno, as seen in security video obtained by Eyewitness News.

Flames and thick black smoke are seen pouring from the windows and skylight in just a matter of minutes.

Others capture the dangerous scene on their cell phones as firefighters work to put out the flames.

What that security video also shows are the moments before the fire when clearly you can see a young boy at the door shoving cardboard boxes inside the bus.

Two more young boys join him inside the bus parked along Brooklyn Avenue. Two others also entered the bus.

At one point the boys shove more boxes inside the bus and four of them run away.

Then you can see flames ignite inside the bus, first in the middle, and then up front near the driver's seat.

The last boy can be seen standing in the door and flames begin to build.

Then they all run from the bus with a large fire burning inside.

"Very disturbing. Yeah, in this day and age you never know what is going to happen," said a neighbor who saw the flames.

Eyewitness News is learning that an 11-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with criminal mischief as a hate crime and arson as a hate crime.

The owner of the bus is Jewish. Police are looking for four other boys ages 10 to 15 who could also be charged.

"And find this as something fun to do yea, is very troubling," a neighbor said.

Crime scene investigators worked the charred shell of the bus for evidence. On the ground were items from the inside including cell phones and other religious books.

The 11-year-old suspect was charged as a juvenile and released to his parents.

The fire took an hour to get under control. No one was injured.

Also, police are looking to see if there's a connection to a Jewish school bus that was hit with a brick or rock less than a mile away from the fire on Thursday.

The bus had been driving down Eastern Parkway near Albany Ave when someone threw a brick at it, shattering the driver side mirror around 2:30 p.m.