A New York man accused of an arson attack on a NYPD patrol car has been held without bail after police arrived at his apartment to detain him, and were greeted with a smiley face spray painted onto the wall and the words: ‘Too late’.
Construction worker Sam Resto, 29, was arrested on Thursday at his work, having left the message in his Queens apartment to taunt the police earlier.
Resto reportedly told police he ‘had a feeling’ they were coming for him.
His passport was in his backpack and he admitted to the FBI that he intended to flee, prosecutors said.
Sam Resto, 29, was caught on surveillance camera buying a red jerrycan of gasoline in Queens
The patrol car went up in flames in the early hours of July 29, in the Upper West Side of NYC
Resto had been arrested twice before the alleged arson attack – once on July 10 for ‘allegedly swinging a chain’ at someone during a parking dispute, and again on July 15 during an anti-police brutality protest on the Brooklyn Bridge.
He was being watched by NYPD on the night of the attack, in the early hours of July 29.
The afternoon before, on July 28, officers watched as he went to a gas station in Elmhurst and filled up a red jerry can with gasoline using the self-service pump.
He then brought it back to his apartment.
Officers said he was wearing a dark Adidas hat, a dark long-sleeve top, dark jeans, dark Nike sneakers and gloves with the fingers cut off.
He stayed home until 11:47pm, when he headed to Manhattan via a ride share, wearing the same clothes, plus a backpack, according to police.
At 3:50am on July 29, surveillance video captured someone wearing the same clothes which police observed Resto wearing earlier, plus a Guy Fawkes mask, walking up to an NYPD Ford Fusion in the Upper West Side.
The vehicle was parked at the corner of Columbus Avenue and West 83rd Street.
Prosecutors claim the man in the video is Resto.
Police found an abandoned backpack containing the clothes and equipment Resto wore
Police, arriving at Resto’s Elmhurst apartment, found graffiti saying: ‘Too late’
The man was seen breaking out the passenger-side window of the car and then pouring gasoline inside and lighting it on fire, before heading east on West 83rd toward Central Park, prosecutors said.
Officers later found a backpack in the park near where they said they saw Resto.
In the backpack was an Adidas hat, gloves with the fingers cut off, a Guy Fawkes mask, a hammer, lighter and red jerry can. Officers said the can smelled of gasoline.
Prosecutors said police pulled fingerprints from the jerry can and matched them to Resto.
Following Resto’s arrest, police found a copy of ‘The Anarchist’s Cookbook,’ a book with recipes for bombs and other explosive devices, police said.
Resto is expected to have his first court appearance conducted by telephone on Friday, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice told Heavy.
Prosecutors asked that Resto be held without bail pending his trial, claiming he is a flight risk and danger to the community.
They said that the actions they alleged were ‘extraordinarily dangerous to the community’ and said that Resto’s police record showed he was becoming increasingly ‘unhinged.’
‘Resto presents a danger to the community and a risk of flight that no set of release conditions can mitigate,’ prosecutors wrote.
If convicted he faces up to 20 years in prison.
The NYPD claims that since George Floyd’s killing on May 25, more than 300 of their vehicles have been vandalized or damaged during protest activities.
The department claimed the costs of repairs neared $1 million.
William Sweeney, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI in New York, said in a statement on Friday that his alleged actions were ‘an affront to everything this city is supposed to be about’.
‘When Resto set an NYPD van ablaze last month, as we allege today, his actions not only destroyed essential public safety equipment paid for by the people of New York City, he placed the personal safety of those living in the neighborhood and their private property into harm’s way,’ said Sweeney.
‘Deliberate criminal activity like the type alleged today puts both first responders and private citizens at risk, it is an affront to everything this city is supposed to be about.
‘Today’s federal charges are the community’s message back to Mr Resto and others who may choose to engage in this type of criminal behavior – we will not tolerate crimes of this magnitude and the consequences will be significant.’