Mario Lucas has been charged with with arson. Lucas was initially arrested on August 8, 2022.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, Mario Lucas committed a horrific arson of a Manhattan business with a victim trapped inside. Luckily, the victim survived. As reflected by the charge today, this Office is committed to holding individuals who would commit violence in this City accountable for their crimes.”
John B. DeVito, ATF Special Agent in Charge said: “This alleged heinous act of arson is unacceptable. Thankfully, the victim has survived. ATF remains steadfast in our commitment to bring our expertise and resources to investigate and apprehend those who commit violent crimes. We will continue to work alongside our local partners to build safer communities.”
NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said: “As alleged, the arson Mario Lucas sparked in June was not just a crime against a single victim in one business, but a violent assault that endangered an entire community and all the first responders who rushed in to help. I commend our NYPD officers for their prompt response in arresting Mr. Lucas and thank them for their outstanding work in this case along with our partners in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the ATF’s New York Field Division, and the FDNY.”
Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh said: “Intentionally setting a fire is a heinous crime, and doing so while knowing there is a person trapped inside is reprehensible. We are grateful to our Fire Marshals and all law enforcement for quickly apprehending this man and keeping him off our city’s streets.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court, the Complaint, and statements made in open Court:
At approximately 4:46 p.m. on June 19, 2022, Lucas entered a spa located in Chinatown (the “Spa”), in Manhattan, New York. Lucas then appeared to engage in a conversation with an individual working in the Spa (the “Victim”). At approximately 4:55 p.m., the Victim exited the lobby into the back room of the Spa, and Lucas remained in the lobby. At approximately 4:56 p.m., Lucas opened his backpack and pulled out a white plastic bag that appeared to contain a plastic container full of liquid. Lucas then poured that liquid around the lobby of the Spa. After pouring the liquid, Lucas took a lighter out of his pocket and lit the liquid on fire. The room then went up in flames.
Lucas tried to open the front door, but the door would not open. The Victim appears to have still been in the back room at this time.
Video from outside the Spa shows, at approximately 4:59 p.m., smoke and fire within the Spa. A crowd gathered around the Spa on the street, and a man used a bar stool to force open the door. At approximately 5:00 p.m., Lucas escaped from the Spa and ran down Eldridge Street. Approximately one minute later, the Victim exited the Spa.
Law enforcement was able to track Lucas’ movements through security camera footage collected from various locations in the vicinity of the Spa. This footage showed that Lucas removed his hooded sweatshirt and shirt and left them on the street. He also dropped his black backpack. Lucas appeared to be suffering from severe burns and appeared to be trying to remove his clothing as a result.
At a location approximately two blocks from the Spa, members of the NYPD intercepted Lucas and placed him in an ambulance. Lucas provided NYPD with a Guatemalan identification card bearing the name “Mario Lucas.”
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Lucas, 46, of Guatemala, is charged with arson resulting in injury to another person, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in prison and a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.