Queens pharmacist faces federal charges for setting speed camera on fire

silver handcuffs
Photo via Getty Images

A Queens pharmacist was cuffed for allegedly lighting a speed camera on fire last month.

Flushing resident Elijah Song, 28, was arraigned via teleconference on Aug. 3 on a charge for intentionally damaging by means of fire property owned by a department or agency receiving federal financial assistance. He was remanded into custody.

The charge comes in response to 17 DOT traffic enforcement cameras that have been burned in northeast Queens since March.

According to charges, at around 12:30 a.m. on July 18, two officers were walking near the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Douglaston Parkway due to reports of multiple cameras had been set on fire in the area that night. Once they were at the intersection, the officers allegedly saw Song, who was allegedly wearing a sweatshirt with a black baseball cap and had a dark backpack on his back, set the DOT traffic enforcement camera on fire.

The officers allegedly chased down Song and lost track of him in a nearby cemetery. Members of the FDNY Engine 313, located just half a block away from the camera, allegedly saw Song park a Silver Toyota Camry behind their firehouse on a dead-end street where non-FDNY vehicles are not authorized to park. The FDNY members quickly directed the police to the car, and by the time NYPD officers got to the vehicle, Song had fled the scene on foot.

The NYPD set up surveillance of the car and an officer allegedly saw a black baseball cap and a dark backpack inside the vehicle and said it belonged to Song. The same officer allegedly saw Song on prior occasions fixing his motorcycle and had seen him wearing a dark motorcycle helmet with a green neon design; on the night of the incident, the officer allegedly saw Song with the same helmet in the vicinity of the abandoned Toyota Camry.

A search of the car allegedly revealed that the car contained a grey and black Nike backpack containing two bottles of an ignitable liquid consistent with gasoline; a dark Yankee baseball hat; four gas cans containing approximately 8 gallons of gasoline; aerosol cans matching the make and model of cans found at the camera at Northern Boulevard and Douglaston Parkway; numerous hand tools including bolt cutters, a sledgehammer and an 8-inch hunting knife; a metal plate which DOT confirmed is used specifically for traffic enforcement cameras; and numerous receipts, mail, and packages bearing the name Elijah Song.

The search also allegedly found a notebook with Song’s name that contained handwritten notes supported the manifesto of Brenton Tarrant, the perpetrator of a recent mass shooting in New Zealand that killed 51 people, as well as desire to build an AR-15 assault rifle, as well as to repair his motorcycle. Fire marshals also allegedly uncovered stacks of anti-Semitic propaganda flyers.

Song was arrested on Aug. 3 and has two violations from speed cameras, according to federal prosecutors, as well as a misdemeanor assault earlier this year. If convicted, Song faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years.