Arsonist attacks Yeshiva University dorms, not considered hate crime
"While the arson at Yeshiva University is currently not believed to be a hate crime, the NYPD and HCTF are staying [in] touch with @FDNY until a final determination is made."
By TZVI JOFFRE
A 33-year-old man lit three fires in a Yeshiva University dormitory on Friday using matches intended for a Hanukkah menorah, according to The New York Times. Students were sleeping in the building when the fires were lit.Security footage of the incident shows the man smashing the glass door at the entrance to the building, crawling into the lobby, picking up and putting back the receiver of a phone at a desk and then disappearing down a hall.Nobody was injured in the incident and firefighters quickly extinguished the fires, according to fire officials.Peter Weyand was arrested after the incident and charged with arson, burglary with criminal intent, reckless endangerment of property, criminal mischief, criminal trespass and aggravated harassment, according to CNN.Weyand is a freelance software developer, according to his LinkedIn account. The day before the incident, Weyan posted, “They’re trying to make a martyr of me, but I’m no martyr. I’m a helper and a doer. I want to help people but I don’t know how.” Other posts from the past few days have similar messages.Advertisement“Attacking any religious institution is a serious crime and we have zero tolerance for acts of arson in this city,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “Thanks to the thorough investigative work of our Fire Marshals, a dangerous individual has been quickly apprehended.”The incident took place at the Schottenstein Residence Hall on the Beren Campus of the university in midtown Manhattan, according to the YU Commentator, an independent student newspaper at the university. YU security stated in an email that the intruder approached the security team at the residence hall asking for help. The team “immediately called 911 and did not let him into the building,” but the intruder then kicked through the glass door, entered the building and lit a “small fire with toilet paper” in the back lounge.The fire was immediately extinguished by the sprinkler system and residents were instructed to stay in their rooms until the intruder was arrested and the fire department cleared the room. The YU Security email stressed that “there is no current threat to our campuses.”Stern College students who live in the residency stated that they felt that there was an alarming lack of information during the incident, but they appreciated “the quick response of YU’s security, the NYPD and FDNY.”Beren Campus Director of University Housing and Residence Life Rachel Kraut told residents of the building that YU does not believe that the incident was a targeted hate crime.Deputy Fire Commissioner Frank Dwyer told the Times that “there is no indication of a hate crime” in the incident. Authorities believe that Weyand was under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident.“While the arson at Yeshiva University is currently not believed to be a hate crime, the NYPD and HCTF are staying [in] touch with @FDNY until a final determination is made,” tweeted the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force on Saturday night.The arson comes just two weeks after an antisemitic shooting attack on a kosher grocery in Jersey City just outside of New York. In which four people were killed, including two hassidic Jews.