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Press Release

Brooklyn Residents Charged With Arson Of An NYPD Vehicle In Manhattan

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

 Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John B. DeVito, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”), Dermot Shea, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), and Daniel A. Nigro, Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department (“FDNY”), announced today the arrest of COREY SMITH and ELAINE CARBERRY in connection with their destruction of a marked NYPD Homeless Outreach Unit van in Greenwich Village in Manhattan.  SMITH and CARBERRY were arrested this morning and will be presented in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Ona T. Wang later today.

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As alleged, Corey Smith and Elaine Carberry deliberately set fire to an NYPD van, then minutes later returned to the vehicle and – once again using an accelerant – ensured its complete destruction.  Thanks to the NYPD, the Fire Department, and the ATF, there was not further damage to life or property.  The defendants are now in custody.”

ATF Special Agent-in-Charge John B. DeVito said:  “These defendants, as alleged, set fire to a marked NYPD van under the cover of darkness, endangering the lives of all New Yorkers.  ATF and our partners in the Arson and Explosives Task Force remain dedicated to seeking justice against those intent on using fire as a weapon.”

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said:  “Setting a police car on fire endangers police officers, firefighters, and nearby residents and properties.  These organized efforts are not a form of protest, they are crimes.  They cost the taxpayer and damage the cause of those engaged in legitimate protest.  I commend the hard work of our detectives in this case together with our law enforcement and city partners, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, and the New York Fire Department.”

Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said:  “Deliberately setting fires to damage property or harm others has no place in our city, or anywhere.  The act of arson endangers the lives of New Yorkers and all first responders.  I commend the excellent teamwork of our Fire Marshals, the NYPD, and ATF to apprehend those who needlessly destroy property and risk the lives of others.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint[1]:

On July 15, 2020, at approximately 4:35 a.m., using ignitable liquid, SMITH and CARBERRY set on fire a marked NYPD Homeless Outreach Unit van on the northwest corner of 12th Street and University Place.  More specifically, as surveillance footage shows, at approximately 4:37 a.m., the NYPD van ignited in flames, and CARBERRY and SMITH walked away from the NYPD van.  As they walked away, SMITH handed CARBERRY what appeared to be a bottle, which CARBERRY put in her purse.  Minutes later, CARBERRY handed SMITH a bottle from her purse, and SMITH again walked towards the NYPD van, with CARBERRY following behind.  Shortly after SMITH approached the NYPD van the second time, a larger fire appeared to ignite.  CARBERRY and SMITH again walked away from the NYPD van, and SMITH again handed CARBERRY an object that appeared to be a bottle, which CARBERRY put in her purse. 

An analysis of the materials found in the NYPD van confirmed the presence of an accelerant.  The FDNY ultimately confirmed that the fire was deliberately set as an act of arson, resulting in the complete destruction of the NYPD van. 

*                *                *

SMITH, 24, of Brooklyn, New York, and CARBERRY, 36, of Brooklyn, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit arson and one count of arson, each of which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants would be determined by the judge.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York City Arson and Explosion Task Force of the ATF, the NYPD, and the FDNY. 

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Christy Slavik is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.


James Margolin, Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated August 13, 2020

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 20-168