Updated 01/02/2012 07:50 PM
Authorities Release Sketch, Video Of Suspect In Queens Firebomb Attacks
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Police released on Monday surveillance video of a suspect wanted for a series of Molotov cocktail attacks in Queens.
Authorities say the suspect, seen above in surveillance video and a police sketch, is between 25 to 30 years old, about 5-feet-8-inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds.
He was seen driving a light-colored, four-door sedan.
Police say the first cocktail was thrown at a bodega on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica around 8 p.m. Sunday and it damaged the store's counter.
Fewer than 10 minutes later, a second call came in about a homemade firebomb being thrown at a house on 107th Avenue.
The bodega where the first attack took place
Just before 9 p.m., police say a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center along the Van Wyck Expressway in Jamaica, starting a fire and damaging the front door.
Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center's acting imam, Maan al Sahlani, said about 85 to 100 people are at an event in the center at the time of the attack, but most were downstairs and did not see the fire.
"We don't find any reason to attack others. As human beings here, we have to love each other, we have to respect each other. It doesn't matter the origin or what I believe or what you believe. The first this is, we're humans," said al Sahlani.
"We are a very peaceful community. We have no problem with no one," said Alex Juma, whose son goes to school at Imam Al-Khoei. "For someone to do this, he needs to be caught and brought to justice, and [punishment needs] to be severe."
The last call came in around 10:45 p.m., when police say two Molotov cocktails were thrown at a home on 170th Street where Hindu services take place.
The released surveillance video shows the final attack.
"It's a bit surprising and I don't know what the intention was behind this incident," said Anjam Bhattacharjee, who lives next door to the site of the last attack.
The Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center following the attack
Police say a glass Starbucks Frappucino bottle was used in at least three of the incidents.
No one was hurt in any of attacks.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has asked the superintendent of State Police and the deputy secretary for Public Safety to help in the investigation, if needed.
In a statement, Cuomo said, “The four reported attacks on Sunday night go against everything we stand for as New Yorkers and Americans. Attacks such as this have no place in our open and inclusive society and we must do all we can to ensure New York remains a safe and tolerant place for all. I am thankful that there were no reported injuries."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg also released a statement, saying, “No matter what motivation was of the individual who threw Molotov cocktails in Queens last night, his actions stand in stark contrast to the New York City of today that we’ve built together."
Residents in Jamaica were horrified by the possible hate crimes.
"Whoever did that is completely insane, firebombing houses. This is a year you need peace," said one local.
"I think it's ridiculous, and I think it's very sad, that someone has that kind of hate," said another.
The mayor said the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Unit and the 103rd Precinct are working to determine if there are any connections to incidents outside the city.
Nassau County police said Monday they were investigating to determine whether an arson attempt in Elmont, N.Y. on Sunday was related to the Queens incidents.
There is a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the suspect's arrest. Anyone with information on the attacks should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.