STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A 17-year-old boy is the third suspect accused of setting a fire that burned the Cargo Cafe in St. George in February, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.
The fire was started with gasoline, the source said.
Prosecutors filed a motion to keep the teen’s case with the district attorney’s office, but the court denied the motion and transferred his case to Family Court due to his age, a spokesman for the D.A.’s office confirmed.
An investigation by the FDNY fire marshals led to the arrests of Jose Martinez, 52, who is homeless on Dec. 5 and Ibrahim Annan, 47, of Victory Boulevard in Silver Lake on Dec. 3.
Firefighters were called to the Cargo Café at 120 Bay Street for reports of a fire at 5:19 a.m. on Feb. 11 and arrived in four minutes, according to the FDNY.
Gas was poured on the outside of the building to start the fire, the source said.
An accelerant-detection canine helped to pinpoint the cause of the blaze, according to a previous statement from the FDNY.
Based partly on a review of surveillance video, authorities allege that Martinez, Annan and a third suspect set fire to the exterior of the cafe, resulting in fire, char, structural, smoke and water damage, according to the complaint.
The culprits also “created substantial risk of serious physical injury to responding Fire Department personnel,” the complaint states.
Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro announced last Thursday that fire marshals arrested Annan for the fire, which resulted in an estimated $300,000 worth of property damage.
A previous statement by the FDNY pointed to a possible motive by at least one of the suspects. Annan allegedly participated in the arson following a dispute at the eatery after restaurant staff had him removed.
“This arrest sends a clear message: Anyone who uses fire as a weapon will be brought to justice,” Nigro previously said of Annan. “This individual put the lives of New Yorkers and responding firefighters in jeopardy and our fire marshals’ investigation demonstrates the aggressive, dedicated work of the FDNY Bureau of Fire Investigation.”
The blaze was quelled shortly before 6 a.m. at the restaurant and bar known for its eye-catching murals crafted by Scott LoBaido. The artsy cafe attracts an eclectic crowd that ranges from locals to tourists who stepped off the Staten Island Ferry.
“The quick response allowed firefighters to bring the incident under control without injuries to civilians or FDNY members,” Nigro previously said. “Fire marshals responded and began an extensive investigation, including the use of Bucca, one of the FDNY Bureau of Fire Investigation’s accelerant-detection canines.”