A Brooklyn man was arrested Wednesday in connection with an explosion that killed a Queens landlord over the summer, though the bomb was actually meant for an NYPD officer, officials said.
Victor Kingsley was taken into custody at his home on East 43rd Street, near Linden Boulevard in East Flatbush, around 1 p.m. following a 7-month-long joint investigation by the FBI and NYPD, according to Chief of Detective Robert Boyce.
Kingsley, 37, is accused in the death of George Wray, 73, who was killed after he opened a bomb shaped like a package that had been left sitting on the porch of a home he owned in Brookville, Queens, on July 28, 2017, officials said.
The package — about the size of a Quaker Oats can and packed with flash powder — detonated when Wray tried to open it, according to Boyce.
The explosion “seared most of the skin on his body,” Boyce said during a Wednesday news conference in Brooklyn, and left him in pain for four days before he died of his injuries on Aug. 1, 2017.
From the beginning of the investigation, police had said they did not believe Wray or anyone who lived at the address to be the intended target.
It was quickly determined that the bomb was meant for an NYPD detective as retaliation for his involvement in the arrest of Kingsley in January 2014, Boyce said, but the department suppressed the information as the investigation continued.
“Wray was an unintended and innocent victim of this cowardly attack,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller said at the news conference Wednesday.
Police had said the package, which was left sitting on the porch for about seven days before Wray tried to open it, had the word “Mac” written on it — a clue that would prove crucial in tracking down Kingsley, according to Boyce.
“The officer’s name was on the cylinder, that was the key,” Boyce said.
Investigators used data mining, surveillance and interviews to zero in on Kingsley, who Miller described as a “needle in a haystack.”
“This was an individual who went to great lengths to conceal his identity as a suspect,” he added.
Despite his 2014 charges of weapons possession and disorderly conduct being dismissed, federal prosecutors allege Kingsley sought to “methodically” and “violently” retaliate against the officers who had arrested him. He searched the internet and made phone calls to find the officers’ home addresses, they said, and began to stockpile components to build explosive devices.
Miller said a search warrant underway at Kingsley’s home Wednesday afternoon had already turned up some explosive precursor materials and other bomb-making components.
In July, Kingsley arranged to have an explosive device disguised as a package left on the porch of a home on 222nd Street, near 145th Road in Queens, because he believed that one of the officers lived at the address, according to prosecutors.
The package was “meant to be opened by the target and meant to function in the way that it did,” Miller said. Instead, Wray died a “painful death.”
Kingsley continued to purchase bomb-making materials after the deadly explosion in Queens, according to the complaint, leading investigators to believe he had other plans in the works. His Amazon account shows purchases related to explosive device components as recently as this month, per the complaint.
Kingsley is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction that resulted in death and unlawful transportation of explosive materials, according to prosecutors. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday. If convicted, he faces a maximum life sentence in prison.
With Alison Fox