BY KEITH J. KELLY | The Stuyvestant Town arsonist who set two golf carts afire and used an accelerant to ignite trash at the Walgreens store on the corner of 18th Street and First Avenue has been arrested, according to police.
The three fires broke out shortly before 3 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 23.
A 13-year-old male was arrested in connection with the blazes, and was charged with arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, according to police spokesperson Detective Sophia Mason.
A reliable source close to the investigation said the youth was not a resident of the complex. The source also said the alleged perpetrator was arrested at Beth Israel/Mount Sinai Hospital across the street from the sprawling Stuyvesant Town complex, but it was not clear why he was in Beth Israel and if he had burned himself while torching the golf carts or setting the Walgreens fire.
About 60 firefighters responded to the call and the fires were quickly extinguished, a Fire Department spokesman said. No injuries were reported.
But Walgreens remains “temporarily closed,” according to a message on the drug store’s phone number, with crime scene tape around its doors.
A corporate spokesperson said no information was available on when the smoke damaged store might reopen. She added that anyone needing to fill prescriptions could go to any nearby Walgreens outlet.
Some residents faulted the response by Peter Cooper Village Stuyvesant Town management to the fire, which never mentioned that a neighborhood drug store was the scene of one of the blazes or that golf carts used by the complex’s maintenance crews were set afire. The acrid smell of smoke permeated the building at 300 First Ave. and other adjoining buildings. Walgreens sits on the ground floor of the 300 First Ave. building.
Beam Living, which manages the complex, sent out a notice at 2:59 p.m. on Feb. 23 saying only that “FDNY is currently dealing with small fires in the area. Situation is under control, however for the time being you may notice the smell of smoke throughout the property. If you ever notice a fire, please call 911 without delay.”
At the time of the “alert” about “small fires in the area,” the allegeded arsonist had not yet been arrested.
A Stuyvesant Town spokesman told The Village Sun, “While it is unfortunate that two of our golf carts were destroyed, we are thankful that no people were harmed and no major building damage occurred. We are grateful to the F.D.N.Y. for their fast response and support.
“Communicating quickly with this community is extremely important to us, even when we don’t have all the facts or ongoing investigations prevent us from sharing all the details.
“We greatly value our commercial neighbors, and we are supporting Walgreens as they get their business back open as soon as possible.”