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Arsonists strike twice in a week

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The latest incidents occurred just after midnight Friday and again at around the...

By Jennifer Warren

Twice within one week arsonists have hurled Molotov cocktails against Anand Nath’s Ozone Park home on 112th Street after his front windows were smashed two months earlier.

The latest incidents occurred just after midnight Friday and again at around the same time Tuesday morning.

Police arrested a suspect in the first firebomb attack and charged him with two felony counts. Authorities were searching for the person who carried out the second attack.

Both times Nath was ready, armed with a surveillance camera and a 60-inch wide-screen television that captured the entire attack on film.

Last Friday morning, as Nath’s 16-year-old son was watching the massive television in the front living room, the boy heard a crash against the front of the house and saw a veil of flames line the side of the window, Nath said.

The son flicked the remote control from his TV program to the surveillance camera and hollered for his father. Outside the house lying beneath the window was a Budweiser bottle with flames shooting from the mouth.

When the fire marshal and his crew arrived, they extinguished the remaining flames in a routine procedure but they were “amazed,” Nath said, by the evidence he was able to provide them.

The videotape led investigators to Devandra Persaud, 22, of 123rd St, who was charged with two felony counts of arson in the first degree, two counts of reckless endangerment, two counts of criminal mischief and two counts of reckless endangerment to property, said Fire Department spokesman Daniel Lynch. He said the motive may have had something to do with Nath’s teenage son and Persaud’s younger sister.

Fire investigators said the attack may have stemmed from the teenage son’s romance with a girl whose brother disapproved of the younger Nath. But the senior Nath denied there was any romantic involvement between the two teenagers, and said the two merely knew each other.

Persaud was also suspected of hurling a Molotov cocktail through the front window of another home at 107-67 111th St., said Detective Theresa Farello, a police spokeswoman.

Nath said he believes the 111th Street attack was a botched attempt to strike the home of his son’s friend, who lived in the adjacent house.

The videotape captured the suspected arsonist driving past Nath’s house slowly, turning the corner, and then walking toward the house. When the suspect was four yards from the edge of the house, he was shown on the tape, Nath said, igniting an object and lobbing it at the front window.

    In the second attack Tuesday morning, which police said was still under investigation, the arsonist threw a Molotov cocktail against the same front window. The ignited bottle fell to the ground and self-extinquished, leaving only smoke damage to the outside of the house, said Detective Edward Reuss, a police spokesman.

Nath saw the attacks coming.

Five weeks ago the front windows of his home were smashed by a vandal and the car belonging to his 16-year-old son was key-scratched while parked in the driveway behind the house. Days after the windows were smashed Nath purchased the surveillance device. After he was finally able to replace the front windows, the Molotov cocktail was thrown weeks later.

“I had a feeling that he probably would come after we fixed it, and he did, and we caught him,” Nath said, sitting in his living room before the television set and a full view of the landscape before his home.

Reach reporter Jennifer Warren by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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