A 29-year-old man from Queens, accused of setting ablaze a New York Police Department (NYPD) vehicle on fire last month and spray-painting his walls in a bid to taunt the police, was finally arrested on Thursday. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested the man while he was trying to flee, prosecutors said.
According to police, Sam Resto was planning to flee the country but was confronted and arrested from his workplace with his backpack which contained his passport. Police said that Resto gave them a long chase that lasted for over a fortnight but an aggressive manhunt finally helped them nab him. He was charged with arson on Friday.
Dodging the Police
According to a criminal complaint unsealed on Friday, Resto was busted at his work on Thursday with a passport in his backpack, and admitted to FBI agents that he was planning to flee. The arrest and charge stem from an incident that took place in the early hours of July 29, when Resto was captured on video setting ablaze an unoccupied NYPD Ford Fusion parked in Manhattan.
Following that, he fled east towards Central Park. A few hours later, NYPD recovered Resto's backpack from the park that contained among other things clothing similar to items Resto wore earlier that morning, a Guy Fawkes mask, a red jerry can that smelled of gasoline, a hammer and lighters. Resto had allegedly carried the gasoline in this jerry can that was used to torch the vehicle.
Later that night, when police raided his Elmhurst apartment, they didn't find Resto but were confronted with a scrawled taunt, alongside a drawing of a smiley face with a tongue sticking out. The taunt provoked the police to go for an aggressive manhunt, finally leading to his arrest on Thursday.
Taunting the Police
Prosecutors said that, Resto after torching the NYPD vehicle came back to his apartment and spray-painted "TOO LATE!" on his wall to taunt the feds, indicating their failure to catch him. However, he finally couldn't flee. Prosecutors asked a Brooklyn federal court on Friday to order Resto to be held without bail after citing his intention to flee and the wall taunt to back up their argument that he's a flight risk.
"This Office will vigorously prosecute criminals whose actions endanger the community, police officers and first responders," said Acting United States Attorney Seth DuCharme in a statement. Resto was caught on surveillance camera on July 29 taking a rideshare from his home to the Upper West Side, carrying a red can of gasoline.
At around 3.50 pm, he put on a Guy Fawkes mask, allegedly smashed in the window of an NYPD Ford Fusion parked at West 83rd Street near Columbus Avenue, doused the inside with gas and set it aflame. Police also recovered a book, "The Anarchist's Cookbook", which has instructions for making explosives, from his apartment. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.