Man Burns American Flag Outside Manhattan Bar

Surveillance video shows a man burning an American flag outside a Manhattan pub

By Tracie Strahan and Pei-Sze Cheng
|  Wednesday, Jul 10, 2013  |  Updated 7:50 AM EDT
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A Manhattan pub co-owner who is about to become an American citizen was horrified after an American flag he hung outside his business was burned right after the Fourth of July. Tracie Strahan reports.

NBC 4 New York

A Manhattan pub co-owner who is about to become an American citizen was horrified after an American flag he hung outside his business was burned right after the Fourth of July. Tracie Strahan reports.

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A Manhattan pub co-owner who is about to become an American citizen was horrified after an American flag he hung outside his business was burned just after the Fourth of July.

John Doherty, an Irish native who co-owns the Playwright Irish Pub on 35th Street, will soon take the oath of citizenship, and he showed his pride by hanging an American flag outside his bar. On a recent early morning, a man set the flag on fire. 

"This is my country now, so for this guy to do this -- there's no words," said Doherty. 

Surveillance video shows the arsonist stopping at one point to apparently admire his work while taking a smoke break. The video also shows pedestrians walking by without stopping.

"Nobody did nothing about it, to my amazement," said Doherty.

The fire not only torched the flag but damaged part of the pub awning. It threatened to spread to the building when workers grabbed a water hose to battle the flames. 

Doherty handed over all 18 minutes of the surveillance video to detectives, and on Tuesday, police announced they had arrested Jeffery Schorfheide, a 26-year-old man from Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

He has been charged with reckless endangerment, hate crime, criminal mischief and arson. He is being held on $3,000 bail until his next court date in mid-July. 

Schorfheide's attorney with Legal Aid had no comment. 

"I think he's a dangerous person. He obviously doesn't care who he could have hurt or what could have happened," said Kimberly Kolbert, the manager at Playwright. "He should be held accountable for his actions." 

Doherty didn't let the flag-burning stop him from showing off his patriotism. He pinned two new flags where the other once burned, and even got a special present from the country he loves: after hearing his story, immigration officials called him Tuesday to tell him they would be presenting a flag to him at the swearing-in ceremony.

"I love this country more than anybody, and I'm proud to be a citizen here in a few weeks," he said. 

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