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Serial Arsonist Arrested for Torching Crown Heights 'Mitzvah Bus': NYPD

The "mitzvah bus" was torched at the corner of Troy Avenue and Maple Street in Crown Heights last month.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

CROWN HEIGHTS — A man who set multiple fires as a teenager has been arrested for torching a school bus decorated with Jewish symbols, authorities said.

Jackson Joseph, 30, of Brownsville, was arrested Monday on charges of arson and criminal mischief in connection to the June 26 blaze at Troy Avenue and Maple Street that totaled the bus featured in a popular Jewish pride music video.

In 2002, the then 15-year-old was arrested in Queens for setting at least five fires in the Hollis area, the NYPD said. Joseph was an aspiring fireman who would set the fires, then stay at the scene to watch the FDNY in action, the New York Daily News reported at the time.

The arrest records for those incidents have since been sealed, sources said.

Joseph had not yet been arraigned on the charges stemming from the Crown Heights incident as of Monday afternoon, police said.

The bus fire was investigated as a possible bias incident by the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force because the vehicle was decorated with Jewish symbols and had been used as a "mitzvah bus" in the popular music video for “I’m a Jew and I’m Proud" by Hasidic singer Benny Friedman.

Since Joseph has a history with arson, it is unlikely he will be charged with targeting the bus as a hate crime, sources added.