New York landlord accused of trying to murder his tenants in deadly house fire

BROOKLYN, NY – A 66-year-old New York landlord, Rafiqul Islam, has been arrested and is facing eight counts of attempted murder charges following an incident on September 26. Islam was taken into custody on October 25, according to jail records and the New York Police Department.

The New York Fire Department issued a statement indicating that Islam is accused of deliberately setting fire to a second-floor apartment in a Brooklyn building due to his alleged anger over the tenants’ failure to pay rent. The unit contained six adults and two children, all of whom managed to escape the fire, which was set in an interior staircase.

In addition to the attempted murder charges, Islam is also being charged with second-degree arson, reckless endangerment, and criminal mischief, according to the NYPD.

Before the incident, Islam had purportedly threatened to disconnect the unit’s electricity and gas and had warned that he would set the property on fire if the tenants did not make payments.

Court records indicate that on September 27, Islam filed a civil case against Andriana Edwards, claiming she owed him $26,592. These records also show Edwards as the occupant of the second-floor unit mentioned in the FDNY statement. However, it remains unconfirmed whether Edwards was among the victims or related to them. A lawyer listed for Edwards in court documents has not responded to requests for further information.

In a counterclaim statement filed on October 26, Edwards’ lawyer asserted that she and her family were forced to vacate the premises because of the fire, rendering the unit uninhabitable. The counterclaim also cited various issues within the unit, including pest infestations, lead in a wall, malfunctioning windows, water damage, and more, which collectively constitute a breach of warranty of habitability.

During a nearly month-long investigation, investigators were able to identify Islam through security footage in the area, according to CBS New York. Neighbors expressed surprise over the arrest, with one neighbor stating, “When the fire first started, people speculated it was him. I usually see him walking around, going house to house to the properties he owns, but I’m just shocked that he got arrested.”

It remains unclear whether Islam has secured legal representation or entered a plea.