The NYPD has arrested a man in connection with the burning of Rainbow Flags at a Harlem gay bar in two separate incidents dating back to May 31.
Tyresse Singleton, 20, was busted on the afternoon of July 9 and charged with two counts of criminal mischief in the fourth degree and two counts of arson in the fifth degree after he allegedly torched Rainbow Flags twice in just over a month at Alibi Lounge at 2376 Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard near West 139th Street in Manhattan. The criminal mischief counts are charged as hate crimes.
The first attack occurred on May 31 when people in the bar were met with flames outside of the building shortly after 1 a.m., just hours before the start of Pride Month. The second incident, on July 8, happened days after Pride Month ended, when a flag was again torched at the same bar at around 1 a.m.
The arrest came less than 24 hours after the NYPD released new footage of Singleton allegedly carrying out the second attack.
The first incident yielded only dark, black-and-white video footage and no suspect was identified or arrested. The footage of the second attack, however, was much brighter, in full color, and at least partially showed the suspect’s face. The man who cops now identify as Singleton sat on an outdoor staircase adjacent to the bar when he set fire to the flags with a lighter before bolting the scene.
In the first attack, the suspect also appeared to use a lighter as he set flags on fire in multiple places before taking off.
Some news reports emerging on July 9 suggested that the suspect lived in the area. Singleton resides at 225 West 123rd Street between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Boulevard., roughly a mile south of the bar.
The bar’s owner, Alexi Minko, could not be reached by phone immediately following news of the arrest. Minko told Gay City News following the first attack that he opened the bar on Pride Weekend in 2016 after realizing there were no other gay bars in the area. He sought to provide local residents with a black-owned LGBTQ space they could visit close to home without traveling to other parts of the city to enjoy nightlife.