NEW YORK - A Connecticut man accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail at police in New York City is in federal custody and will be formally charged in a virtual court hearing on Monday, authorities said.
According to authorities, police pulled over a car just before 8 a.m. in East Flatbush after the driver, Lionel Virgile, 44, of Bridgeport, ran a red light.
When officers approached the car and began speaking with the driver, the Virgile threw a chemical at the officers and sped off.
Authorities said Virgile sped off and then suddenly stopped, tossed the Molotov cocktail at the officers, before fleeing a second time. He later crashed his car and was arrested. An additional Molotov cocktail was found inside the vehicle, according to Police Chief Rodney Harrison.
"Fortunately, our officers weren’t injured," the New York Police Department said in a tweet, noting how the incident "proved once again that no traffic enforcement is ‘routine.’"
Harrison later tweeted that the chemical thrown at the officers was bleach.
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The officer splashed with bleach was treated for minor chemical burns.
Virgile was transferred to federal custody late Saturday and will appear in a virtual hearing on Monday before a judge in Brooklyn federal court, authorities said.
Information on an attorney for Virgile wasn't available Sunday.
Virgile's former wife, Marie Theodate, told the New York Post that her ex-husband suffers from bipolar disorder and has been off his medication for two years. "He’s not a violent person," normally, Theodate said.
Theodate apologized to the officers on behalf of Virgile. "I’m really sorry about that because that’s a really bad thing that he did," she told the newspaper.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea on Saturday suggested anti-police sentiment may have played a role in the incident.
"Words matter," he wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. "Earlier this week we said that again after graffiti that proclaimed 'kill cops.' This morning, a Molotov cocktail thrown at an occupied marked police car. Now more than ever is the time to come together, to move forward together."
The driver was arrested and charges against him are pending. As of Saturday afternoon, he has not been identified.
With the Associated Press.