Investigators said Jerome Isaac, 47, waited for Deloris Gillespie, 73, to get out of the elevator of her Brooklyn apartment building Saturday before spraying her with an accelerant and setting her on fire with a Molotov cocktail.
Surveillance video from inside the small elevator shows the suspect looked something like an exterminator, with a canister sprayer, white gloves and a dust mask, which was perched atop his head like a pair of sunglasses. The sprayer was full of flammable liquid.
When the elevator opened, the man sprayed Gillespie, who turned around and crouched down to try to protect herself, according to investigators.
The attacker sprayed Gillespie in the face and continued to spray her over her head and parts of her body as her bags of groceries draped off her arms.
Investigators said that the attacker at that point pulled out a barbecue-style lighter and used it to ignite a rag in a bottle. He waited a few seconds as Gillespie huddled on the floor. Then he backed out of the elevator and tossed the flaming bottle in.
Police say Isaac walked into a police precinct and implicated himself in the crime.
They say Isaac told them he was angry at the woman because she owed him $2,000 for work he had done.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.