An 11-year-old boy was charged with a hate crime after setting a bus on fire this weekend.
In surveillance footage that was published online by CrownHeights.info, several young boys can be seen running in and out of the bus before flames erupted inside the vehicle.
While none of the boys’ names have been released, one was charged with criminal mischief as a hate crime and arson as a hate crime according to The New York Daily News. Police are searching for the four other boys seen in the surveillance video.
"It's terrible," said Chani Klein, a parent at the school. "I'd like to see these kids get some help."
"I don't know why they would do that. Maybe they were just bored, or maybe it really was about hate. Either way they blew up a bus. They need help," she said.
It's important to note that the bus was not clearly labeled as a Yeshiva vehicle or belonging to the school, but it was parked on the street in front of Beth Rivkah, a private Jewish school for girls. While it is unclear exactly why police landed on a hate crime charge, Crown Heights does have a history of racial tension between the African American and Jewish communities.
Chaim Rosenstein, a 26-year-old who lives in the area, said the bias allegation has left the members of the community deeply concerned.
"It's very sad that there was just enough mischief and possibly bias and hate pent up inside an 11-year-old,” he said.
"People are very shocked," Rosenstein added. "They're concerned.”
In fact, even the owner of the bus company, 54-year-old Leon Yavich, said that he’s not ready to believe that the children’s actions were motivated by hate.
“I am not going to jump the gun and accuse these kids of a hate crime,” said Yavich.
“I will not accuse them of a hate crime simply for the fact that I have not spoken to them,” he said, adding, “My bus doesn’t have any Jewish markings. It doesn’t belong to the Yeshiva.”
No one was injured in the fire. Police are searching for the four other boys seen in the surveillance video.
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