Subway arson attack suspect in Manhattan booked for two separate incidents on 1 line

Subway arson attack holding flaming liquid at turnstile
The suspect in two separate subway arson attacks, identified as Niles Taylor, is shown in this Feb. 5, 2024 security video still holding cups of flaming liquid while passing through the turnstile at the 28th Street station in Chelsea.
Photo courtesy of NYPD

The alleged subway arsonist who threw flaming liquid onto a 1 train straphanger in Manhattan over the weekend has been charged with trying a similar attack at another train station months ago, police reported.

Niles Taylor, 49, who is homeless, was picked up moments after allegedly dousing a man with burning liquid on board a 1 train at the Houston Street station in Greenwich Village at about 2:45 p.m. on May 25. 

Police subsequently tied Taylor to a fiery incident at the 28th Street station on the 1 line in Chelsea back on Feb. 5, when he allegedly threw burning liquid at a group of straphangers. 

While no injuries were reported in that incident, police said the victim in Saturday’s heated assault, a 23-year-old man, suffered burns to his upper torso. 

The victim, Petrit Alijaj, told WABC-TV in an interview that he was riding the 1 train with his fiancée and family members when Taylor allegedly approached them, holding a cup of inflamed liquid. The suspect then tossed the liquid in their direction, prompting Alijaj to turn and shield family members from being burned.

“He waited for the door to open [at Houston Street] and then he put the fire on me,” Alijaj said in a WABC-TV interview. “When I saw it, I protect the others with my body.”

Houston Street station in Manhattan where subway arson attack occurred
The Houston Street station on the 1 line in Greenwich Village.Photo via Wikimedia Commons/GeneralPunger

EMS rushed Alijaj to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition. No other injuries were reported in the case.

Police, meanwhile, apprehended Taylor a short time later near the corner of Canal and Renwick Streets in SoHo, about a half-mile from the crime scene. 

Taylor was charged with first-, second- and third-degree assault, first-degree arson, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. He was additionally charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property after being found in possession of a stolen cellphone.

Following an investigation, Taylor was also charged with attempted assault, reckless endangerment and arson for the Feb. 5 incident in Chelsea.

Police sources said Taylor has one prior arrest on his record for criminal possession of a weapon back in 1997.

According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, Taylor was arraigned in New York Criminal Court on May 27 for the Feb. 5 incident, and was ordered held on $500,000 bond/$250,000 cash bail. He is due to return to court on May 31.

Updated on May 27 at 11:35 a.m.