Craig Tamanaha is accused of setting the Fox News Christmas tree on fire in New York City in a dramatic blaze caught on multiple videos.
You can see videos of the 50-foot Christmas tree burning down throughout this article. The tree stands in front of a building that houses FOX News Channel, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post.
“Earlier this morning, a 49-year-old man climbed a Christmas tree at 48 St & 6th Ave in Manhattan & lit a fire causing the tree to become engulfed in flames. The fire was extinguished & responding officers arrested the suspect, who has been charged for this crime,” the New York Police Department wrote on Twitter. It’s called the All-American Christmas Tree.
This photo of Tamanaha emerged:
Here’s what you need to know:
The Police Commissioner Says the Motive Is Not Clear & Tamanaha Has a Series of Low-Level Arrests, Including for Drugs
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told WPIX, “The motive I don’t think is clear at this point. It’s an individual that’s known to us. He has a series of low level arrests and drug arrests. He was issued early this year some appearance tickets and didn’t come back to court which unfortunately is something we see all too often. He also has some low level arrests out of state, I believe it’s Texas.”
Shea said that police believe “it’s one where he’s working alone… it’s probably a little preliminary to say what the motivation was. Was mental illness a factor?” He said police are still investigating the motive, however.
Videos captured the Christmas tree on fire and also the charred remains of it. Online records indicate that Tamanaha was born in Hawaii and has lived in Louisiana.
Tamanaha Is Homeless, Reports Say
According to CBS News, Tamanaha was charged with “criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, arson, criminal nuisance, criminal trespass, criminal tampering and disorderly conduct.”
His offenses don’t qualify for bail, according to Fox News.
Criminal defense lawyer Mark Bederow, a former prosecutor, told Fox: “There’s no question that the legislature has got to reevaluate the nooks and crannies of the bail statute because it’s leading to absurd outcomes.” He added to Fox, “You’d have to intentionally damage a building or vehicle by starting a fire or explosion as a hate crime, which is an extraordinarily high bar for bail eligibility. Having a personal bias or animus toward Christmas doesn’t legally cut it.”
Police confiscated a lighter from the suspect, according to CBS News, which obtained an internal document from Fox News’ CEO Suzanne Scott, who wrote that it was an “act of cowardice.”
“We are in the process of building and installing a new tree as a message that there can be peace, light and joy even during a dark moment like this,” Scott said, according to the internal Fox News memo obtained by CBS, which reported that the tree is located in midtown and the suspect is homeless.
No injuries were reported and Yamanaha was quickly apprehended.
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