Brooklyn, NY – It was the third time that an obstetrician’s office in Flatbush was targeted by an arsonist, only this time police were on hand to catch the perpetrator, tipped off by the facility’s director who watched the entire incident unfold via a cell phone webcam feed.
Yehuda Miller, director of Boro Park Obstetrics and Gynecology’s Flatbush location, was at his home in New Jersey when he saw a man dressed in painter’s clothes enter the building at 10:55 PM Tuesday night through a live video surveillance streamed to his smartphone, reported the New York Post.
While he watched the man ransack the office, Miller called police, telling them exactly where in the building the suspect was located. Police made their way to the crime scene as the man poured an accelerant around the room, and as the suspect ignited the fire and left the building through a rear exit, he was greeted by uniformed officers.
“They were standing right there and met him at the door,” said Miller.
Police arrested the man who was identified as 49 year old Michael Walker. He was charged with burglary, three counts of arson, two counts of criminal mischief, two counts of reckless endangerment and one count each of trespassing and criminal trespassing.
Police said that Walker, who lives just half a mile away, has a history of approximately 35 prior arrests. They say it is unknown at this time if Walker is connected to a pair of prior firebombings at the same facility that took place within the same week in May 2015 but are continuing to investigate a possible link.
While facilities that provide women’s health services are frequently targeted by anti-abortionists, Miller said that no abortions are performed at the site. He believes that Walker was paid by someone to torch the practice.
“We really don’t know who is hiring these arsonists,” said Miller.
It took firefighters several hours to bring the fire under control and six firefighters sustained minor injuries.
The medical group, with locations in Boro Park, Flatbush and Williamsburg, is heavily patronized by women in the Jewish community and employs a staff of 17 doctors, midwives and nurse practitioners.