Thursday, July 16, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) | A 17-year-old mimicking Brad Pitt’s “Fight Club” character, who plans attacks on corporate America, was arrested on suspicion of masterminding a pre-dawn blast outside a Starbucks Coffee shop on Memorial Day, police said Wednesday.

Kyle Shaw was arrested Tuesday night on charges of arson, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal mischief, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

He was awaiting arraignment Wednesday and it wasn’t clear whether he had an attorney. A message left at his home was not immediately returned.

The explosion near the Guggenheim Museum on the Upper East Side shattered the store’s windows but caused no injuries. Police do not think it is related to other explosions around the city in the past four years - at the British Consulate in May 2005, the Mexican Consulate in October 2007 and the Times Square military recruiting station in March 2008.

Commissioner Kelly said Kyle was trying to emulate the character named Tyler Durden from the 1999 film about a spineless pencil pusher, played by Ed Norton, who takes up with the dangerous yet manly Durden. The two form a secret “fight club,” where men beat one another to a pulp in an attempt to feel more alive.

Kyle formed his own fight club in which boys beat one another in various locales around the city including Central Park, Commissioner Kelly said. At least one member got a broken nose, he said.

A second plot hatched by Mr. Pitt’s character in the film was called “Project Mayhem” and included escalating attacks on symbols of corporate America. The film ends with explosions bringing down several corporate office towers.

Kyle told at least one friend to “watch the news over Memorial Day” because he was about to launch his own version of “project mayhem,” Commissioner Kelly said. Investigators are looking into whether more people might have been involved.

Police said the suspect picked the site because a Starbucks was a target in the movie. It wasn’t clear why that specific coffee shop was chosen. There are dozens around the city.

Kyle recently graduated from the City-as-School, an alternative public high school in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan that was founded in 1972, police said.

The blast occurred around 3:30 a.m. on May 25. A witness reported seeing two people, one blond, running from the scene. The device, made of fireworks powder, a plastic bottle, a metal cap and electrical tape, was set off with a hand-lit fuse.

Investigators recovered homemade bomb materials, a copy of “Fight Club,” a box of sparklers and a newspaper clipping about the attack from Kyle’s home, Commissioner Kelly said.

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