Surveillance footage of the incident, which the Fire Department of New York released Sunday, paints a harrowing picture, as the restaurant is suddenly engulfed in flames.
Authorities said Mangal was arrested at the scene after an employee at the deli chased him down and held them there until police arrived.
He was reportedly charged with arson, assault, reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal mischief.
Witness: Joel Mangal Was a Disgruntled Customer
Mohamed Abdulla, who was working at the NA Rock Deli in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Saturday, told reporters that Joel Mangal was a disgruntled customer at the store just before 8 a.m.
“He was threatening, ‘I’m gonna kill you. I’m gonna burn the store. I’m going to burn the building down,’” Adbulla told WCBS.
It’s not clear what caused the dispute, but shortly after, investigators said, Mangal returned to hurl a Molotov cocktail at the Brooklyn storefront.
Surveillance footage shows a man lighting a rag in a bottle before tossing the device through the door of the NA Rock Deli. In an instant, flames consumed the counter.
“It was so fast, you wouldn’t believe it. I was there working in the deli and had customers. Out of nowhere I had glass and fire in my face,” Abdulla recalled.
Those in the deli rushed through the flames to safety. A man, possibly Abdulla, can be seen in the surveillance footage leaving the store with his foot on fire.
In the dramatic video, the man who threw the first Molotov cocktail is seen retrieving and lighting a second projectile — but a quick-thinking bystander is seen slapping the explosive from his hand before it can be tossed.
Abdulla said he believes the good samaritan may have saved his life.
“If the second one would have came here, the whole building would have been on fire,” he said.
Pursuit on Foot
According to local reports, Abdulla said he chased Mangal for two blocks after escaping from the burning store, eventually confronting the alleged arsonist at a train station.
He caught Mangal, but not before police said the alleged attacker slashed Abdulla’s hand with a knife — an accusation for which he is now facing weapons charges.
No Serious Injuries, Say Officials
Miraculously, no one in the NA Rock Deli on Saturday morning was seriously injured from the blast of the Molotov cocktail. Fire officials said that of the two employees in the store, only one individual required medical treatment at the scene for “non-life-threatening injuries” — possibly Abdulla, for the “slashing” to his hands when apprehending Mangal.
“Fortunately, there was no loss of life here,” said FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro in a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday. “The investigative work from the Explosives and Arson Task Force comprised of our Fire Marshals, the NYPD, and ATF, led to the timely arrest of this suspect who threatened the safety of our communities by using such a cruel and destructive device.”
“FDNY will continue to work alongside local, state and federal partners to bring to justice those who use fire as a weapon against New Yorkers,” Nigro added.
Joel Mangal, said authorities, is facing several charges including felony arson — charges which fire officials said would be prosecuted by the District Attorney of Brooklyn.
It was not immediately clear Monday if Mangel had an attorney, or when his arraignment will be.