Ex-Con Faces Murder Charge In Queensbridge Arson Attack
A pregnant mother of two young children remains in critical but stable condition at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center this week, where she is recovering from burns she suffered when her ex-boyfriend set her on fire at the Queensbridge Houses on Sunday morning, November 15.
Police said Khenan Clarke, 25, stormed out of Latisha Shaw’s apartment at the Queensbridge Houses just before 11 a.m. on Sunday, moments after the couple ended a 15-minute screaming match.
Clarke returned to the apartment a short while later with several cans of gasoline. After setting fire to a hallway and a staircase outside Shaw’s apartment, the ex-con knocked on Shaw’s door. When she opened the door, Clarke tossed gasoline over her and lit a match, police said. Shaw screamed as she went up in flames, as her horrified children looked on.
Police sources said Clarke chased Shaw when she managed to get out of the apartment and climbed to the sixth floor. A neighbor there took her in and put out the flames on her legs and torso but Shaw screamed and ran to the roof when she thought Clarke had found her, the sources said.
Sources said Clarke was served some instant justice when he slipped and doused his own clothes with gasoline after setting the hallway fire and burst into flames when he tossed the match at Shaw He walked to the street and sought help from paramedics waiting outside the building.
“This guy walked up to an ambulance and told the medics he was a friend of Shaw’s,” sources said. “The skin was peeling from his legs where he was burned. The coward never mentioned Shaw or the kids. He just wanted help with his burns.”
Clarke tried to flee to his car when neighbors spotted him at the ambulance and alerted police. He was taken to Harlem Hospital, where he faces attempted murder, arson, endangering the welfare of a child and a slew of other charges.
Firefighters heard the children screaming from two bedrooms in the apartment and managed to get them out. Fire officials said the children, ages five and three, suffered smoke inhalation and were taken to a local hospital for treatment.
The hallway and a “down” staircase outside Shaw’s apartment were completely blackened by the fire. “It was pretty apparent that [Clarke] was trying to trap the woman and those kids in the apartment,” the sources said.
FDNY officials said Shaw collapsed when she reached the roof. Firefighters rescued the unconscious woman, who suffered severe burns on her stomach and legs. She is listed in critical but stable condition at the Weill Cornell Burn Center. Doctors said Shaw’s injuries were not considered life threatening. There was no information available on the condition of her unborn child.
A neighbor said Shaw kicked Clarke, who is the father of one of the children, out of the apartment several years ago. He stopped by the apartment on Sunday morning for a visit that quickly turned into a shouting match.
“He was always scary,” one neighbor said. “He looked like Satan, but who thought he was capable of this?”