By Jack Defren
A suspect in a recent series of arsons, targeting dining sheds and garbage areas in front of residential buildings on the Upper West Side, was arrested Sunday, August 14, according to an NYPD spokesperson.
On Friday, August 12, at 11:42 pm, police officers responded to a 911 call of a fire near the corner of West 80th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Upon arrival, officers observed the fire — apparently intentionally set — in an outdoor dining structure belonging to the restaurant Bluestone Lane.
The NYPD spokesperson added that the same suspect was believed to be responsible for an intentionally set fire at a nearby dumpster in front of 159 West 80th Street. Also apparently related was a rubbish fire, set minutes later, in front of 139 West 80th Street. FDNY responded and extinguished all three fires without further incident or injury.
On Sunday, August 14th at 11:45 pm, NYPD officers arrested an apparently homeless man, Alexis Parra, age 50, at 82nd Street and Broadway, allegedly in connection with these fires. Parra is charged with Arson, Reckless Endangerment, and Criminal Mischief.
An eyewitness, who wishes to remain anonymous, captured the arsonist setting fire to a cardboard box and the resulting blaze at 139 West 80th Street, via a front door security camera. The witness provided this footage to FDNY investigators and West Side Rag. This witness also heard a doorman, who is employed at 162 West 80th Street, tell NYPD officers on Friday night that he had observed the perp setting the Bluestone Lane shed fire, confronted the arsonist, and helped subdue that fire before it could cause more damage.
On Monday morning, Fire Marshals Peter Tighe and Michael A. O’Neill visited 80th Street with a photographer to document the damage caused by the three Friday night fires. O’Neill told WSR that the perp’s arrest also pertained to another arson fire set on West 84th Street on Sunday evening.
NYPD officers responding to the fires along West 80th Street, reviewed nearby building security video footage taken from multiple perspectives, and concluded it was the same man visible in the different videos. An NYPD arrest report described Parra as “an adult male, possibly Hispanic, 6’0″ tall, 220 lbs., wearing a black t-shirt, blue and white shorts, grey and black sneakers and a black hat.”
Also while investigating on West 80th Street, officers received a report after midnight on Saturday of a trash fire at 76th Street and Columbus Avenue. NYPD officers said that it sounded like the work of the same suspect, who had been filmed fleeing towards Columbus Avenue.
Fire Marshal O’Neill also said the suspect may be responsible for additional trash fires reported to 911 on the UWS in the past week and even last month. O’Neill said “this man likely has mental illness.” He added that Parra was not given a desk appearance ticket, due to the seriousness of the crime. Rather, he was remanded to custody. “Arson is a very serious crime,” O’Neill said. “Today it’s garbage [set on fire], tomorrow it’s your car, or it’s your wooden front door. The FDNY is continuing the investigation and is speaking to witnesses.”
When asked for any advice O’Neill might give to concerned Upper West Siders, he said, “Get cameras [in front of your buildings]. Cameras are essential. A good, inexpensive system will save you a lot of aggravation if something were to happen to your property…or, you could help out a neighbor.”
Meanwhile Gale Brewer is campaigning for outlawing background checks on prospective tenants. She literally thinks it’s okay to have an arsonist living next door. Let her know you don’t agree with her… or else don’t complain in the future
The UWS voted for Gale AGAIN for some dumb reason. Meanwhile she does nothing for us. E vehicles and homeless have endangered my life wvery few days now.
Because background checks are causing people who deserve a home and would otherwise be perfect neighbors to be rejected, often through no fault of their own. I personally know of a family that was denied an apartment over and over again because they had sued their landlord over slum conditions. And another who was denied because of breaking the law 30 years ago, but still has a record even though they have completely turned their life around. They were accepted to the NY Bar, but not for an apartment.
Also, background checks are also a way that landlords can discriminate against people based on race. They find any reason to keep a person of color out, backed up by the “background check” even though they wouldn’t disqualify a white person for the same reason. This is extremely hard to prove in court, yet is commonplace none-the-less.
Eliminating background checks does not mean you are going to get a rapist living next door. But it might mean a Black person might move in.
Are you trying to say that background checks show race but not crimes like rapes?
Some locals always find a way to make it an equity or social justice issue where it is not applicable. Background checks are racist?
Bragg made our streets unsafe, now Brewer is trying to make us feel unsafe in our buildings?
The article states that the man is homeless. What does this have to do with potential tenants and background checks?
There were also two fires set around 6 am on Saturday. One was at the base of a tree on 77th and Central Park West on the park side of the street. The other was in three trash cans at the bottom of the entrance to the park on 72nd.
The bigger crime here will be if he is allowed to walk. As mayor Adam said, most of the crimes are committed by a few people, repeaters. I feel everyone who was arrested for a crime, should be given bail or held in jail until their trial hopefully a speedy one as
guaranteed in the constitution. The public needs protection also. I would like to get everyone to get on the governors case to see the light of day.
I suggest completely reading an article before commenting. That way, you might have seen this part:
“He added that Parra was not given a desk appearance ticket, due to the seriousness of the crime. Rather, he was remanded to custody. “Arson is a very serious crime,” O’Neill said.”
Will he be released without bail? I am not sure setting fires qualifies as a ‘violent crime’ worthy of detention in Alvin Bragg’s Manhattan. Perhaps this poor misunderstood young arsonist is really just a victim in a longer narrative about the evils of capitalism and systemic injustice and therefore must be released (only to set more fires tomorrow)?
Serial firebugs, whether they are homeless and obviously mentally ill, or just a punk wanting to burn things down have a problem and must be evaluated via a psych hold and handled appropriately.
“He added that Parra was not given a desk appearance ticket, due to the seriousness of the crime. Rather, he was remanded to custody.”
Ditto to those below. I hope this guy is not just going to be right back on the street in a few.
Will someone please follow this up and keep informing us about the outcome. If it can be proved that this guy is guilty and if he is allowed to walk, some sort of a peaceful citizen’s revolution is called for.
Yea, that and the smoke shop robbery. Police should have an update by now.
“some sort of a peaceful citizen’s revolution” – that would be voting differently