A landlord in New York City has been charged with 8 counts of attempted murder after he allegedly set one of his buildings on fire in a dispute with a tenant over unpaid rent. According to Huff Post, the man, identified as 66-year-old Rafiqul Islam, was arrested last month for allegedly igniting a blaze at his own Brooklyn building, where a family with six children were tenants. In a Facebook post, the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) said that he was upset that the family had stopped paying rent and had refused to move out.
“FDNY Fire Marshals have made an arrest in an arson case involving a landlord. Investigators say Rafiqul Islam was angry his second-floor tenant stopped paying rent and refused to move out, so he set fire to an interior staircase at 212 Forbell Street in Brooklyn. Two adults and six children were home at the time of the fire and escaped,” the officials said on Friday.
According to FDNY, the fire victims revealed that Mr Islam had threatened to cut off their gas and electric service and burn the house down if the family of eight, who lived on the second floor, did not come up with the rent money.
Investigators conducted a probe for four weeks and found video evidence from the day which showed Mr Islam, dressed in a mask and hood, entering and leaving the home shortly before the first 911 call. They also found an image in which the mask and hood were down.
Fire officials said the fire was ignited on an interior staircase of the building. According to the New York Post, the family of 8 were home when the place went up in flames, but all were able to escape safely. The parents reportedly threw two children into the arms of neighbours on the ground. The remaining two children were carried out by firefighters while the parents jumped from the roof.
Mr Islam reportedly filed a civil suit a day after the fire against an occupant on the second floor of the address, claiming she owed him $26,592. A counterclaim was then filed a month later by the occupant claiming that she and her family were “driven from the subject premises by a fire”. The lawsuit also alleged several conditions that had made the apartment inhabitable, including an infestation of mice and roaches as well as water damage and the presence of lead pain.
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office is now pursuing several criminal charges against Mr Islam.