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Judge orders NYC Molotov cocktail suspect held without bail

April 19, 2021 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) — A man who threw bleach and a Molotov cocktail at police in Brooklyn admitted that he bought the materials to make explosives “with the intent to injure police officers,” federal prosecutors said Monday.

Lionel Virgile, 44, was arraigned by video conference in Brooklyn federal court on an attempted arson charge and ordered held without bail

Prosecutors said Virgile splashed bleach at an officer when police pulled him over for running a red light Saturday morning, then later threw a lit Molotov cocktail at a police car. The officer who was hit with bleach was treated at a hospital. The Molotov cocktail did not explode and did not injure anyone, authorities said.

An FBI agent said officers found five more Molotov cocktails in Virgile’s car. Virgile admitted that he had made the devices to injure police officers, the agent said.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Winik said Virgile committed “a brutal and entirely unprovoked attack” that could have blinded the officer hit with bleach.

Defense attorney Michelle Gelernt of the federal defender’s office said she was not seeking bail for Virgile so there was no need for the prosecutor to detail his alleged offenses.

“The only point is to poison any potential jury pool,” Gelernt said.

Virgile is a former Bridgeport, Connecticut, resident but had recently been living in his car in Brooklyn, prosecutors said. He is due back in court May 3.