A 16-year-old Stuyvesant High School student was caught on camera setting two fires in school bathrooms this week, according to police. Cops arrested junior Mohammed Hassan after obtaining surveillance tapes that apparently show the teen entering a seventh-floor bathroom at 1:13 pm and leaving two minutes later as a trash can went up in flames. At 1:16 pm, a different camera purportedly captures Hassan entering and quickly exiting another bathroom, leaving "bright orange and yellow flames rising out of a large garbage can," according to investigators quoted by the Daily News.
The tabloid notes that the suspect allegedly bragged about setting the fires, and states that a witness spotted a teen fitting Hassan's description enter a bathroom just before one of the fires broke out, then bump into another student as he "hastily" fled. The former math club member has been charged in connection with the two blazes, but he has not been linked to seven other small fires that broke out in the past few days in Stuyvesant stairwells, bathrooms, garbage cans and paper towel dispensers. Details on the charges are a little unclear, as the Post and the Daily News report that Hassan is being charged with setting the fires on Tuesday, though the Times and a later Daily News story claim he is being charged with setting fires on Thursday.
The News notes that if convicted, Hassan could face up to seven years in jail, but his lawyer claims his client is too smart to be an arsonist. "He's a bright kid," said attorney Kevin Faga. "His idea is to go to Harvard and eventually to law school." The suspect's father spoke with reporters outside his Bronx apartment and claimed his child — who according to the Daily News "cowered behind him, hiding his face in the hood of a sweatshirt" after being freed on bail of $2,500 — was "being framed." "This is a false accusation," said Hassan's father, who added that the second fire broke out while his son was in detention. "My boy doesn't know anything about any fires and they don't have any concrete evidence. My son is a good boy."