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Teen-agers Set Fire to Man and Woman Sleeping in Park

August 26, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ A band of teen-agers set fire Wednesday to a man and woman asleep in a Brooklyn park where homeless people say they have been repeatedly harassed.

The attack was described to police by another man, Joseph Thomas, 38, who said he was awakened around 2:15 a.m. by someone pouring alcohol on him.

Thomas said he chased the youth, who fled with four companions, all about 15 to 18 years old. When he returned to where he had been sleeping, Thomas saw Jerry Greyson, 25, and Bernadette Crowley, 26, on fire.

″I rolled out. They didn’t say nothing to me,″ said Greyson, who was treated and returned to the neighborhood with bandaged ankles and a burned wrist.

Ms. Crowley was admitted to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center for treatment of burns over 7 percent of her body, mostly on the legs, said administrator Barry Kriseberg.

Detective Capt. John Ricci said his men were canvassing the neighborhood around Prospect Park, the largest in Brooklyn, looking for known troublemakers.

Ricci did not say what the motive of the teen-agers may have been, but he said he found no pattern of violence directed at people living in the park.

He also said that since victims gave family addresses, he did not consider them homeless.

″The choice to hang in the area is theirs,″ he said.

The attack came in a corner of the park where the homeless congregate on benches and the grass.

″This ain’t the Grand Hyatt, but in the summertime it beats the train stations,″ said Greyson.

″This is a big first for me. I ain’t never been torched before.″

About 10 men in their 20s and 30s listened as Greyson spoke. Some recalled being harassed and yelled at.

One, who identified himself only as Eddie, said the attackers were ″just some kids running around. It’s not the community. We don’t bother them; they don’t bother us.″

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