Man arrested for allegedly setting man on fire on subway train in New York City, police say

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, May 27, 2024
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NEW YORK CITY -- A man is speaking out after being set on fire onboard a subway train in New York City on Saturday.

In exclusive video obtained by Eyewitness News, first responders are seen rushing to help Petrit Alijaj after a stranger doused him with a flaming liquid.

At the time, the 23-year-old victim was with his fiancée and cousins on a No. 1 train. After the attack, video shows Alijaj with his shirt off and in visible pain.

"I was on the train and a maniac like put fire on my body, and he left the train," said Alijaj over the phone from the hospital.

Alijaj says it happened in a split second around 2:45 p.m. on Saturday as his southbound train was pulling into the Houston Street station in Manhattan. He tells Eyewitness News that the suspect didn't say anything to him, but proceeded to give him a weird look.

"He had a cup with the fire and the train stopped at Houston Street. We thought when he go for the foor, we thought he's leaving, he's getting off. He waited for the door to open and then he put the fire on me," Alijaj said.

Now Alijaj has burns all over his body.

Fortunately, no one with him was hurt. He says he was able to successfully shield his family from the burning liquid.

"When I saw it, I protect the others with my body," he said.

Aljaj says he is traumatized, and that the only place he's ever seen anything like this is in the movies.

Police arrested 49-year-old Nile Taylor shortly after the incident occurred on Saturday.

Taylor is charged with assault, arson, and reckless engagement. He is also charged with petty larceny and criminal possession of a weapon.

Unrelated to the incident, authorities separately charged Taylor with criminal possession of stolen property, after he picked up a phone that a woman dropped on the train platform.

Though the suspect is in custody, it provides little comfort to Alijaj.

"They caught the guy, they will keep him in prison for a week and they will release him," Alijaj said.