Boston police: Arrest made in propane tank incident that set police car on fire

Boston Police have arrested a man they believe is responsible for an explosion that damaged a police cruiser.

Asim Kieta, 42, was arrested without incident Saturday evening and has been charged with possession of an explosive or destructive incendiary device, assault with intent to murder, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a police officer, and arson, according to a press release from the Boston Police Department.

Kieta was arraigned on Monday at South Boston Municipal Court and ordered held on $750,000 bail, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

During a press conference Sunday morning, Police Commissioner William B. Evans said Kieta has a lengthy criminal history.

“Whether there’s a hatred of police because of his past behavior or whether there is some nexus to what’s going on in the world as far as terrorism or what happened yesterday with the demonstrations, we’re not clear on the motive,” Evans said.

A propane tank planted next to a Boston police car caused the vehicle to catch fire Friday in what appears to be a deliberate attempt “to blow up one of our cruisers,” law enforcement officials said.

A police representative said the tank was wedged between the cruiser and a bridge on West Broadway in South Boston, near a Boston police station.

When an officer got into the cruiser and began driving, the tank exploded, Evans said.

“Luckily, nobody was hurt,” Evans said. “Clearly, we’re looking at this as a deliberate act.”

Three officers were hospitalized and released, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

Officials are still piecing together what caused the explosion. Evans said investigators believe the propane tank was combined with “maybe some type of explosive or fireworks on top that might have been the initial bang.”

Police on Saturday released images of the suspect from the scene that were pulled from surveillance footage from a nearby business, police spokeswoman Rachel McGuire said.

The incident is still under investigation by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Boston police and the FBI.

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