Police Pursue Suspect in Burning of Newark Mayoral Campaign Bus

Wednesday, Apr 2, 2014  |  Updated 6:58 AM EDT
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Police Pursue Suspect in Newark Campaign Bus Fire

Authorities in New Jersey say they have identified a suspect in connection with a fire set on the campaign bus for Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka in February.

Baraka, the son of poet Amiri Baraka, is running against Shavar Jeffries on May 13 in the race to replace Cory Booker.

The fire was set on Baraka's bus at about 7 a.m. on Feb. 16 when it was parked outside campaign headquarters on Central Avenue, officials and the campaign said.

The bus was empty and no one was hurt. 

Baraka posted on his Facebook page that the bus was used to take the candidate and volunteers to various campaign events.

"Scare tactics won't work," the post said.

The Essex County prosecutor said Tuesday that authorities are searching for 43-year-old Michael Benkowski as a suspect after tracking down a white van seen on surveillance. The prosecutor did not disclose what connection he is believed to have, if any, with Baraka.

Anyone with information about the fire or the suspect is asked to call the Essex County prosecutor's major crimes tips line at 877-847-7432.

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