Call us Nostradamus: Man who torched Fox News’ Christmas tree violates terms of his release

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The following contains editorial content which is the opinion of the writer, a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today. 

NEW YORK CITY- Just call us Nostradamus. As we set the time machine way back to December 8 of last year, Craig Tamanaha, 49, was arrested for arson after he was seen lighting Fox News’ “All America Christmas Tree” ablaze.

Typical for New York City (and a number of other liberal cities) Tamanaha was released without bail due to New York’s woke criminal justice “reforms.”

We predicted that would be the last we see of Tamanaha even though he was directed by Judge Martinez Alonso to “regularly check in with a supervised release program,” Fox reported at the time. We hate when we’re right.

As reported in Western Journal, Tamanaha is now on the lam after failing to comply with conditions of his release. Color us shocked.

A criminal complaint issued by the New York City Police Department noted that Tamanaha, a frequent flyer well-known to the NYPD had been “thinking about lighting the tree on fire all day,” and then decided to go through with it.

In an amazing display of chutzpah, left-leaning media outlets, which have been obsessed with the January 6 “INSURRECTION” for twelve months, accused Fox of obsessing on the arson of their Christmas display.

Just after midnight on Dec.8, Tamanaha snuck into the area in Midtown Manhattan where the tree was located, just outside Fox News headquarters. He proceeded to torch the Christmas tree, causing an estimated half million dollars worth of damage.

After the incident, Tamanaha’s father told the New York Post that his son had a long history of destructive crimes, as well as drug abuse.

“Oh, he’s a nut. I can’t control him,” Richard Tamanaha said. “Mentally, he’s not all there.”

Outgoing NYPD Police Commissioner noted that Tamanaha was “an individual that’s known to us” due to a number of low-level crimes and drug-related arrests, the Post reported.

Now, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Tamanaha has broken the conditions of his release, noting he had failed to check in with the required program on a regular basis and is now considered to be a bail jumper.

Fox reported that Tamanaha was scheduled to appear in court this past Tuesday, however there was little reason to believe, he would in fact show. No information is available to confirm whether or not he actually showed in court.

Our bet is on one of two possible outcomes—slim and none.

Two men arrested and charged with the attempted murder of a Chicago cop after shooting him during a traffic stop

For our original report on Tamanaha, we invite you to read our original report on the case:

DIG DEEPER

MANHATTAN- New York officials report that the suspect arrested Wednesday in connection with the arson fire that destroyed the Fox News All-American Christmas Tree earlier that morning has been freed without bail. 

Fox News reported the suspect, Craig Tamanaha was witnessed walking out of a Manhattan criminal courthouse on Wednesday night. 

When confronted by reporters outside the building, Tamanaha said, “I didn’t do it.” 

The tree, which was only lit on Sunday night, went up in flames just outside Fox News headquarters only hours before the streets would become full of holiday shoppers, tourists, and workers. 

Officials estimate the damage at about $500,000. All of Tamanaha’s charges were misdemeanors, which do not require bail under New York City’s laws, according to Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bayley in a statement to the New York Post. 

In order to qualify for bail, the suspect would have had to been charged with a more significant third-degree felony arson charge, criminal defense lawyer Mark Bederow told the Post. A more serious charge would only have applied if there was intent to harm a person or there was some type of bias alleged. 

Meanwhile, Fox promised to unveil a new Christmas tree outside Fox News headquarters Thursday during “The Five,” with the same two hosts-Lawrence Jones and Abby Hornacek-hosting the event as they did Sunday evening, Fox announced. 

For our original reporting, read below:

MANHATTAN, NY- According to several reports, a 49-year-old man with a lengthy rap sheet has been arrested for allegedly setting ablaze a large Christmas tree outside the Fox News building.

The holiday display was set on fire shortly after midnight and the flames quickly spread up the large tree in Fox Square, a heavily patrolled and tourist-packed corner near Rockerfeller Center, outside the Sixth Avenue and West 48th Street building that houses Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post.

The suspect, since identified as Craig Tamanaha, if facing several charges including arson, criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, and criminal trespass. 

In a statement earlier in the day on Wednesday, December 8th, the New York Police Department (NYPD) said that Fox News security members had spotted a man climbing the Christmas tree at around 12:15 a.m.

The decorated tree was then engulfed in flames, with video posted to social media showing it on fire.

The man allegedly slipped into the artificial tree, used its metal frame like a ladder to climb up the structure and then lit a piece of cardboard to start the fire. Upon arrival to the scene, NYPD officers saw a man running from the scene and apprehended him. 

According to police and other sources, Tamanaha, who has an address in Brooklyn, is known to hang out in the area. He allegedly used a lighter and possibly accelerants to cause nearly $500,000 in property damage.

Tamanaha, who was charged with six misdemeanors for setting the tree on fire, may make his way back to the streets within hours of being arrested due to lenient New York City bail reform policies and arson laws.

Fox News reported that former Manhattan prosecutor turned criminal defense lawyer Mark Bederow said that the arsonist will likely be free by Thursday, December 9th since his crimes do not “qualify” for bail. He added:

“You can’t give the Christmas tree an order of protection, so security will have to stand guard. There’s no question that the legislature has got to reevaluate the nooks and crannies of the bail statute because it’s leading to absurd outcomes.”

Tamanaha faces one count of each of second-degree criminal mischief, second-degree reckless endangerment, fifth-degree arson, second-degree criminal nuisance, third-degree criminal trespass, third-degree criminal tampering, and disorderly conduct.

All of the arrest charges are misdemeanors and judges do not have the discretion to set bail on any of the counts. For arson to qualify for bail, Tamanaha would have to at least be charged with third-degree arson as a hate crime. Bederow said:

“You’d have to intentionally damage a building or vehicle by starting a fire or explosion as a hate crime, which is an extraordinarily high bar for bail eligibility. Having a personal bias or animus toward Christmas doesn’t legally cut it.”

If Tamanaha is experiencing mental illness, a judge could order him held for a psychiatric evaluation. As of this writing, he is at the Midtown North Precinct. It is unclear why he targeted the tree. 

Police stated that he was busted in March for criminal possession of a controlled substance and was arrested again in June for allegedly assaulting a police officer. He has also been charged with other low-level crimes including for drug use and criminal trespassing. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in statement:

“It’s an individual that’s known to us. He has a series of low level arrests and drug arrests. He was issued some earlier this year; some appearance tickets and didn’t come back to court, which unfortunately is something we see all too often. He also has some low-level arrests out of state. I believe it’s Texas.”

Shea added:

“I think it’s definitely one where he’s working alone. That’s what it appears. This is all very fresh … It’s probably a little preliminary to say what the motivation was. Was mental illness a factor? We’re looking at all of that and we’ll probably have more to say.”

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers. 

And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

LET Unity

Repeat offender who once tried to kill a cop caught on video attacking NYPD officer, gets released without bail

November 16th, 2021

NEW YORK, NY- According to reports, an ex-convict who once tried to kill a New York Police Department (NYPD) police officer has been arrested for randomly attacking another NYPD officer, only to then be freed without bail.

38-year-old Isus Thompson, a now-accused repeat cop attacker, could have been forced to come up with bail money before being released from custody after his latest alleged assault on an NYPD officer. However, the judge instead cut him loose after Bronx prosecutors failed to seek bail in the case.

This, of course, prompted an angry response from NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea. In a tweet, he wrote:

“Do we have to wait for [Thompson] to kill someone before this is taken seriously?”

The New York Post requested comment from the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, to which they did not respond to, asking why its prosecutors sought only supervised release; a condition that means the suspect is simply required to periodically check in with the court.

Authorities stated that on Sunday, November 14th, Thompson had approached an NYPD officer on East 194th Street near Valentine Avenue in Fordham Manor in the Bronx around 1:30 a.m. 

According to police, he proceeded to randomly strike Officer Kyo Sun Lee, 30, in the head with a black backpack holding a dvd player, adult videos, and a small metal safe. The officer’s partner also found Thompson in possession of a black metal box-cutter. 

Lee, who reported pain and redness to the right side of his face and back of his head, was taken to North Central Bronx Hospital for evaluation. The officer recalled the “totally unexpected” attack in a brief interview with the Post outside his home:

“I saw him approach and we didn’t make direct eye contact. He saw me and I saw him. It seemed like he was very determined, his focus was straight ahead.”

Lee added:

“He seemed like he was going to walk across the street … I was looking at hime from an angle and turned to see my partner’s back. As I turned on an angle, that’s when he came about here (pointing to his neck).”

The officer stated:

“Thankfully there were enough officers there to get him into custody.”

The criminal complaint shows that Thompson was hit with three separate assault charges, including at least one felony, which give the judge discretion to set bail. The suspect also was charged with weapon possession, harassment and resisting arrest.

The complaint states that he flailed his arms, kicked his legs and twisted his body, refusing to be handcuffed during his arrest. Reportedly, Thompson had previously served two years for a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree attempted murder for stabbing a cop in Forest Hills in 2008.

According to a criminal complaint from that incident, Thompson had been smoking marijuana in the Ehrenriech-Austin Playground at Austin Street and 76th Avenue in Forest Hills around 10:30 p.m. on June 6th of that year when the 30-year-old officer approached him.

The officer told Thompson that he could not be in the park after sunset and asked him to show his identification. The cop walked with Thompson to his police cruiser, where the officer asked him to his hands on the car.

That is when Thompson pulled out a knife and stabbed the cop in the right side of his stomach, ripping his shirt and striking, but not piercing his bulletproof vest. Thompson then fled the scene, sparking a chase that spanned more than three blocks.

When police finally caught him, they found the knife in one of his shorts pockets and a “quantity of marijuana” inside a Ziploc bag in the other.

Thompson was sentenced and incarcerated in 2010 and released in 2012 on parole, which expired in 2015. In his tweet on Monday, November 15th, Shea wrote:

“Arrested in ’08 for the attempted murder of a police officer, the same man was again arrested Sun. for attacking a #Bronx cop from behind. Late last night, this violent criminal was released without bail.”

When asked about how he feels about Thompson’s release, Lee said:

“I’m not sure how I should feel about it. I was just performing my duty as any officer would.”

The district attorney’s office and state court officials confirmed that Bronx Criminal Court Judge Audrey Stone signed off on the prosecutors’ request for only supervised release in Thompson’s latest bust. Thompson’s lawyer had sought no conditions for his client’s release. Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration, said:

“Judge Stone, taking into consideration that there was a level of inappropriate behavior involving law enforcement, set the higher of the two argued bail requests.”

Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said that is not good enough, adding:

“This case is more proof that our broken criminal justice system needs a complete overhaul. Our legislators, prosecutors, and judges all need to stop pointing fingers and passing the buck because they’re putting both cops and our communities at risk.”

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers. 

And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

LET Unity

Gov. Hochul orders NYPD cops to allow substance users to freely use drugs like heroin on the streets

October 16th, 2021

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

ALBANY, NY- According to the New York Post, October 7th, 2021 was the day that New York surrendered in the war on drugs. Upon orders from Albany, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has directed officers to let those addicted to narcotics freely use drugs on city streets, even let them share needles. 

Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a bill that was pushed by state Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) and backed overwhelmingly by the city’s Democratic delegation to the legislature. The bill decriminalizes the possession or sale of hypodermic needles and syringes by those who inject drugs, such as heroin.

A directive to NYPD commanders states:

“Effective immediately, members of the service should not take any enforcement action against any individual who possesses a hypodermic needle, even when it contains residue of a controlled substance.”

IV use of illegal substances is inherently unhealthy and dangerous. Those who use drugs and share needles expose themselves and others to HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne infections. Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) said in a statement:

“It was passed under the guise of compassion, but it’s one of the least compassionate bills I’ve seen come across the legislature in a long time. There is nothing compassionate about telling people to keep doing something that is going to kill them.”

Hochul has effectively decriminalized drugs by legalizing the sale and possession of drug paraphernalia and making substance abuse free of social consequences. Lanza added:

“This law says stick a needle in your arm, pump your body with poison and lose your life … This law says to people suffering addiction that New York has given up on you, that New York doesn’t care about you.”

Real estate executive William Abramson, who represents residential and commercial clients around the city, said that many of his clients have complained to him about drug abusers found strung out in their stoops and doorways. He added:

“This is outrageous. Once again, quality of life in New York City continues to deteriorate because of laws that do not consider the residents and businesses of the city. We all agree that something needs to be done to help addicts, but letting them shoot up on the streets does not help anyone. This is bad for everyone.”

Drug deaths across the city have been skyrocketing. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 2,243 people have died from drug overdoses in New York City for the 12-month period that ended on March 31st. This was a 36 percent increase in overdose deaths from the year prior.

The NYPD decree also tells cops that, “It is no longer a violation of law for an individual to possess a hypodermic needle, even when it did not come from a pharmacy or a needle exchange program.”

Lanza said that the potential for needle sharing “contravenes any logical and reasonable science based upon public health standards.” Luke Nasta, the CEO of Camelot Counseling, a longtime substance abuse treatment center on Staten Island, said in a statement:

“This law is a monument to how far we’ve deteriorated as a society in our relationship to the misuse of drugs. The more permissive we get as a society the harder it is for people struggling to rehabilitate.”

Barbara Blair, President of the Garment District Alliance, which is battling a wave of heroin use in front of member businesses, is outraged. She said:

“The new law is preposterous. Mentally and emotionally ill individuals should be removed from the streets, involuntarily if necessary.

They should be placed in high-quality settings, institutional settings if necessary, where they get the shelter, food and care they need. Having drug addicts, a frightful condition, freely injecting drugs and passing out in public is not tenable.”

New York lawmakers apparently see no problem, voting to let substance abusers freely use heroin and other injected drugs in public without threat or arrest. Rivera said:

“I hear the valid concerns that certain New Yorkers have regarding the increased presence of substance use on our streets and its impact on our communities.

That is why it is critical that we move swiftly to open overdose prevention centers, a proven tool in preventing overdose deaths, stopping the spread of disease, providing a safe non-public space for those using drugs and a pathway to a recovery.”

The results will be predictably bad for all New Yorkers, including those using the drugs, said Joseph Giacalone, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He said in a statement:

“Six months from now, New York politicians will be scratching their heads wondering why syringes are everywhere, drug use is up, overdoses are up, and why open-air drug markets are flourishing. It makes you shake your head.”

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