A man accused of setting a train fire that killed a New York City subway driver in March told police he was on the train, had a disposable lighter and set paper on fire but not the “big fire,” according to court documents released after his arraignment Saturday on murder and arson charges.
Nathaniel Avinger was also seen on subway station video walking away from the front of the train where the fire was located, and then exiting the station, according to court documents, which identified him as 49 years old. Police on Friday said he was 50.
A message was left seeking comment with Avinger’s attorney, Marnie Zien from The Legal Aid Society.
Detectives linked Avinger to the fatal blaze after he was arrested Wednesday, accused of assaulting a transit worker in Brooklyn, authorities said. He’s been charged with one count of second-degree murder and one count of fourth-degree arson in connection with the deadly subway fire.
Avinger, who is scheduled to appear again in court on Dec. 23, is accused of setting fire to a shopping cart aboard a No. 2 train as it pulled into the 110th Street station in Harlem, near Central Park, around 3 a.m. on March 27.
The motorman, 36-year-old Garrett Goble, died after he and another transit employee helped passengers escape to safety, officials said. His body was found on the tracks. Several people were hurt.
Fires were also reported at around the same time at three nearby stations — 86th Street, 96th Street and 116th Street, officials said.
With reporting by AP