Arsonist Sets Yeshiva University Dorm on Fire Using Matches Meant for Hanukkah Candles

None of the charges against the 33-year old man, who started three separate fires in the middle of the night, raise the level of the incident to a hate crime

JTA
Marcy Oster
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Yeshiva University's Schottenstein Center in New York.
Yeshiva University's Schottenstein Center in New York. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Beyond My Ken
JTA
Marcy Oster

 A man who works as a software engineer broke into a Yeshiva University dormitory in Manhattan and set three separate fires using matches intended to light Hanukkah candles.

Students were asleep in the building when the incident occurred after 3 A.M. on Friday, New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro announced on Friday.

Peter Weyand, 33, was arrested on Friday for breaking into the Yeshiva University Schottenstein Residence, in an incident partially captured on security camera. He is charged with arson, burglary with criminal intent, reckless endangerment of property, criminal mischief, criminal trespass and aggravated harassment.

Weyand is believed to have been under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident, the New York Times reported, citing a law enforcement official familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing. None of the charges raise the level of the incident to a hate crime, despite the fact that the university is a major Jewish institution in the city.

The fire department released surveillance video of a man kicking out the bottom of a glass door to the dormitory’s lobby and then crawling through it, finally continuing into the building. The video does not show the fires.

“Attacking any religious institution is a serious crime and we have zero tolerance for acts of arson in this city,” Nigro said. “Thanks to the thorough investigative work of our Fire Marshals, a dangerous individual has been quickly apprehended.”

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