Nolita Arsonist Charged With Murder

Image by photographer Casey Neistat, via Instagram. Photo: Casey Neistat/Instagram

Appearing in a Manhattan court with a black eye on Saturday, 45-year-old Wei Chu Hu was arraigned on charges of murder, arson, and assault stemming from the five-alarm fire that gutted his five-story apartment building at 41 Spring Street on Wednesday night. Prosecutors say that Hu admitted to starting the blaze — which took 200 firefighters two hours to put out — with a cigarette lighter. When his roommate discovered him standing in the kitchen amid flames, Hu allegedly told him, “I die, you die, everybody dies.” When first responders arrived, Hu fought to prevent them from entering the building. His wife (with whom he’d apparently been having problems) and thirteen-year-old son escaped the fire, but a still-unidentified female neighbor died from smoke inhalation and burns, according to the city medical examiner. So far, Hu’s lawyer has not suggested a motive for the crimes.