Brooklyn Molotov cocktail attack suspect wanted to ‘hurt the police,’ court docs show

Man accused of throwing chemical substance at nypd officer in Brooklyn

Lionel Virgile allegedly threw a chemical substance at an NYPD officer and a lit molotov cocktail at a police vehicle in Brooklyn on April 17, 2021, according to the NYPD (Credit: NYPD)

EAST FLATBUSH, Brooklyn — A Connecticut man admitted to throwing bleach in an NYPD officer’s face in Brooklyn over the weekend and told investigators he made several Molotov cocktails with the intent to “hurt the police,” according to federal court documents unsealed Monday.

Lionel Virgile, of Bridgeport, was arrested on Saturday morning after he led police on a chase through East Flatbush and crashed into a parked SUV, officials said. 

The melee began just before 8 a.m. near Clarendon Road and East 45th Street, authorities said. When police pulled over Virgile, 44, for allegedly running a red light, authorities said he threw bleach in an officer’s face and took off.

The officers called for back-up and chased Virgile’s car to Snyder Avenue, where he stopped, got out, and threw a lit Molotov cocktail at an NYPD vehicle, police said. 

The device bounced off the windshield and broke on the sidewalk, according to court documents. No one was injured.

Virgile got back into his car and headed further down Snyder Avenue, but crashed into a parked SUV about a block away, police said. He was taken into custody at the scene.

The officer who was hit with the bleach was treated for chemical burns and blurry vision at a hospital and was released, police said.

The NYPD and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted a video showing the moment the substance was thrown at the officer. 

Warning: The tweet below contains language that some may find offensive

Investigators who searched Virgile’s car found five Molotov cocktails made of glass bottles, a yellowish liquid and cloth wicks, according to court documents.

After his arrest, Virgile admitted to throwing bleach at the officer and hurling the Molotov cocktail at the police vehicle, court documents show. 

He told investigators he bought materials to make the Molotov cocktails about two weeks ago because he wanted to “hurt the police,” according to court documents. Virgile also said he knew the Molotov cocktail could “spark a fire” when he threw it and that he had watched YouTube videos about explosives, the documents show.

He appeared virtually in federal court on Monday on a charge of attempted arson and was ordered detained pending trial.

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