Police reported Wednesday, Dec. 8, that they charged a man with arson and other offenses after a giant Christmas tree in front of the News Corporation headquarters in midtown Manhattan was set alight.
Craig Tamanaha, 49, is charged with arson, criminal mischief, careless endangerment, and trespassing after allegedly starting the fire.
He allegedly snuck into the artificial tree, using its metal frame as a ladder to climb up the structure, and set the fire with a bit of cardboard, according to the police source.
The New York Post said Tamanaha is accused of causing about $500,000 in property damage by using a lighter to start the fire.
However, according to a legal expert, Tamanaha, who is charged with six misdemeanors for burning trees, might be back on the streets in a matter of hours because of New York City’s lax bail reform regulations and arson statutes.
The three press facilities of Fox News, the New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal are housed in the News Corp building and represent core media. However, the NYPD could not ascertain a motive or reveal whether the act was a political statement, as National Review reported.
Early Wednesday, Dec. 8, the NYPD tweeted, “Earlier this morning, a 49-year-old man climbed a Christmas tree at 48 St & 6th Ave in Manhattan & lit a fire causing the tree to become engulfed in flames. The fire was extinguished & responding officers arrested the suspect, who has been charged for this crime.”
Tamanaha was arrested for drug possession in March, according to police. In June, he was detained again for allegedly attacking a police officer.
He was also arrested for narcotics and trespassing violations in Texas and Washington, D.C.