Some Forest Hills residents fear arsonist may be targeting Jews

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FOREST HILLS, Queens – To some residents of Forest Hills, the pattern of fires is clear.

  All the torched buildings under construction are owned by Bukharian Jews who renovate older Tudor and Georgian homes and turn them into modern, larger houses that some feel don't fit into the neighborhood.

    "I think some people just don't like the way the houses look," Jules Lichenstine, a former Forest Hills resident, told PIX 11.

      "It's dreadful," Claudine Bazini, a Forest Hills resident said. "Would some really set fire to a house because they didn't like the way it looked?"

    There are some 50,000 Bukharian Jews who have settled in this section of Queens, who now feel targeted, many afraid to show their faces."

      "It is their right to build a house the way they want in this country," said Alla Yakubov, a real estate agent of Bukharian descent.

With residents already on edge, there was another fire over the weekend in Forest Hills, Queens, and now police say a person of interest in the string of arson attacks has an alibi.

Police say a green-helmeted motorcyclist is no longer a person of interest because he has an alibi and was a first responder at the arson to help out.

   But police want people to look closely at surveillance video of another hooded suspect, taken at the torching of a home on 67th Drive the day before Thanksgiving.

   This suspect, police believe, is responsible for setting fires in seven homes being renovated in the Cord Meyer section of Forest Hills in the last six weeks.

    "He appears to be a young man of unknown ethnicity and can be seen at the scene of the fire," Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce of the NYPD said. "He didn't use an accelerant, which is unusual."