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Press Release

June 15, 2020 Update: The complaint against Michael Rodriguez was dismissed at the government’s request on June 14, 2020 and he has been released from custody. The investigation into the June 2, 2020 arson of the NYPD vehicle is ongoing.

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York



A criminal complaint was filed Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn charging Michael Rodriguez with setting an unoccupied New York City Police Department vehicle on fire on June 2, 2020 in Williamsburg.  Rodriguez was arrested Thursday morning and was ordered detained pending trial this afternoon by United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann. 

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, John B. DeVito, Special Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Daniel Nigro, Commissioner, Fire Department of New York (FDNY), and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the arrest and charges. 

“Under the cover of pre-dawn darkness, Rodriguez allegedly set fire to a vehicle bearing an NYPD placard on a residential block in Brooklyn, endangering innocent residents of the area and first responders to the blaze and damaging a second vehicle,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “The defendant’s actions have no place in civil society, and this Office will vigorously prosecute him and others who commit such acts of violence in our community.” 

“As charged, Rodriguez’s deliberate actions put not only the lives of New York City Police officers at risk, but also those of the FDNY first responders and civilians. Thanks to the dedicated work of the ATF/FDNY/NYPD Arson and Explosives Task Force, this suspect was quickly apprehended.  I would like to thank to the United States Attorney’s Office for their work in prosecuting this case,” stated ATF Special Agent-in-Charge DeVito.

“Beyond the dangerous torching of an NYPD vehicle, these allegations represent an attack on the peace and good order that all New Yorkers deserve. I commend our detectives, and law enforcement partners, for their swift and diligent work in this case,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.

“Using fire as a weapon to hurt others or destroy property puts innocent lives in danger and will never be tolerated in our city,” stated FDNY Commissioner Nigro. “I’m grateful for the outstanding collaboration of our Fire Marshals with the NYPD and ATF to apprehend this dangerous individual.”

As alleged in the complaint, at approximately 4:30 a.m., Rodriguez approached a vehicle parked on Devoe Street bearing an NYPD placard on the dashboard.  The vehicle, assigned to an NYPD captain, was parked at the location for the night.  Rodriguez was captured on video surveillance footage pouring liquid on the vehicle’s windshield, placing cardboard on the windshield, and then setting the cardboard on fire.  With the vehicle ablaze, Rodriguez pointed a cellular phone toward the vehicle and appeared to either record or take photographs of the fire.  The defendant then fled the scene on foot.  Another vehicle parked near the NYPD vehicle was also damaged by fire.

The charge in the complaint is an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  If convicted, the defendant faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Section.  Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Bushwack is in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendant:

Age:  32


E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-MJ-431


John Marzulli
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated June 15, 2020

Violent Crime