Category Archives: Arson

Former Police Lieutenant Sentenced for Arson

Elijah Kareem Shahid, a former Washington D.C. police lieutenant, received a 30 year prison sentence on Tuesday for first-degree arson after he set multiple fires at his townhouse in the summer of 2013.  Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Graydon McKee III decided to suspend 20 years of the original sentence, meaning Shahid, 41, will only spend 10 years in federal prison.

Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor, upon hearing of the sentence, commended his Fire Investigators by saying, “I am proud of the hard work and dedication our personnel from the Department’s Office of the Fire Marshal demonstrated in this incident with an arrest, conviction and sentencing.  I also want to thank the States Attorney’s Office for working with our Fire Investigators in bringing this case to a successful conclusion and lengthy sentence for this heinous crime of Arson.”

Shahid was arrested on July 5, 2013 after setting multiple fires at his home in the 16300 block of Pewter lane using ignitable liquid.  Police arrived on the scene that morning after getting calls about a domestic dispute and a fire at the house.  The end townhouse unit suffered an estimated $10,000 worth of damages as a result of the arson.

Shahid had been held at the County Corrections Center since his arrest.

Court records show that Shadid was removed from the Metropolitan Police Department in 2006 after being convicted of assault and gun charges.

Arrest Made in Target Arson Case

Erica Anderson, 19, was arrested Tuesday night on a warrant that charged her with second-degree arson, conspiracy to commit second-degree arson, and first-degree reckless endangerment.  The charges are in connection with a fire that started last month at a Target store in the Enfield Square Mall on January 27th.

Authorities believe the suspects were attempting to shoplift and started the fire to create a diversion.  A witness told police that she saw two young women leave the area where the fire broke out and push a shopping cart into the parking lot without paying.  According to the affidavit, Anderson told her boyfriend that she was shopping with friend, Danishia Thomas, who allegedly started the fire using an STP fuel additive.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire to one aisle and no injuries have been reported. The fire is believed to have started in the seasonal paper goods aisle of the store.

Shoppers, employees, and neighboring stores had to be evacuated during the fire and many items in Target received smoke damage.  The items that could be salvaged were donated to Foodshare, according to the charity group.

Erica Anderson is in custody and appeared in Superior Court in Enfield on Wednesday.  The judge set bond at $100,000 and the case has been continued to March 19, 2014.  Anderson has no prior convictions but does have a pending case on her record involving shoplifting at Walmart.

Teen Arrested on Charges of Arson

A San Antonio teenager was arrested Tuesday afternoon on a first degree felony arson charge after he allegedly attempted to set an elderly woman’s house on fire.  Michael Waldron, 17, is accused of starting a fire in a house on the 5000 block of Roan Brook on August 31, 2013.

According to arson investigators, firefighters were called to 5042 Roan Brook around 2:30 a.m. on the 31st where they found the walls of the home covered with smoke and soot.  They found several rolls of paper towels had been set on fire in different areas of the kitchen and throughout the rest of the house.  Firefighters managed to keep the fire from spreading but the kitchen and all of its contents were destroyed.

One witness told police that he saw Waldron park on the street and enter the house wearing a black ski mask.  He was reportedly carrying a jug of motor oil and paper towels.  Waldron was also seen by several witnesses leaving the house just before the fire broke out.  The arrest warrant affidavit shows that Waldron fled the scene after being confronted by a neighbor.

The San Antonio Fire Department believes the fire resulted in $40,000 in property damages and another $20,000 of damages to its contents.  The home was empty when the fire began and no injuries have been reported.

Michael Waldron is currently being held on a $50,000 bond.

Teenager Accused of Arson in Helena Wildfires

Lewis and Clark County authorities have arrested 18-year-old Fredrick J. Maw on suspicion of arson after investigating a series of wildfires in Helena over the past week.  Maw is suspected of setting a serious of fires on Wednesday near York, a 55-acre fire in the Spokane Hills, and another fire last week in Priest Pass which is West of Helena.  Officials say nine fires of suspicious origin were discovered in the Helena National Forest.  Some of the fires were stamped out or may have burned together to form what is being called a five-fire complex.

Helena National Forest supervisor Kevin Riordan reported that three of the smaller blazes are at, or near containment.  A 100-acre fire called Hunter Gulch is 40% contained and still actively burning.  At this time, no injuries have been reported, no structures are threatening, and no evacuations have been ordered in Helena.

Approximately 160 people have been assigned to the fire.  This includes: state, county and volunteer fire resources.  There are also two Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation helicopters assisting in the fire suppression efforts.

Maw was detained at 3:50 p.m. on Wednesday and arrested two hours later for felony arson.  Sheriff Leo Dutton says he expects Fredrick Maw to make his initial appearance in Justice Court this afternoon.  Officials are continuing their investigation into all of the fires.

Warrior Man Arrested After Crime Spree

An abusive husband and father went on a crime spree in Alabama this week.  According to local law enforcement officials, Carlton Bruce Murray, 41, of Warrior, is under arrest after a crime spree on Wednesday.  Murray threatened to burn down his house with his wife and son inside, then attempted a carjacking, and finally attempted to break into an occupied school near Remlap.

Blount County Sheriff’s deputies apprehended Murray after he attempted a carjacking near an occupied school.  Carlton tried to break into the school, Southeastern School, and when that failed, he ran off into the woods where he was caught by deputies.

Randy Christian, Jefferson County Chief Deputy, stated that Murray had poured gasoline throughout his house, and then shoved his wife into a room.  According to Christian, Murray then told his 8-year-old son that he was going to burn the house down with the boy and mother inside.  After Murray beat his wife, she escaped from the house with her mobile phone.  Murray  fled to Birmingham, where he stole a firearm from a co-worker  and  then went to Remlap where the attempted carjacking and school break-in took place.

Christian remarked that he didn’t know what kind of sorry excuse of a man was capable of terrorizing an 8-year-old boy and a woman like that, but he does believe there is a special place for them.

Murray is charged with first degree robbery, second degree burglary, third degree receiving stolen property, terroristic threatening, resisting arrest and carrying a prohibited firearm on school grounds.  He is being held in Blount County Jail in Oneonta without bond.

He will also be charged by Jefferson County on charges of attempted arson, first degree robbery and first degree domestic violence.


Birmingham Officer Arrested in Warrior Fires

A police officer will find out what it’s like to be on the other side of the bars of a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama after he was arrested today on arson charges.

A Birmingham police officer was taken into custody on Thursday for a series of fires in the city of Warrior, Alabama.  Curtis Joshua Thornton faces charges for the fires in Warrior and is also a suspect in the Ensley fires.  Thornton is charged with two counts of arson, attempted arson and felony criminal mischief.

State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk stated the 27-year-old Thornton of Warrior had been a suspect for some time in the investigation of five fires that were set in an abandoned mobile home and other properties near the police officer’s home.

Thornton joined the Birmingham Police Department in 2009.  He worked as a patrol officer in the West Precinct.  According to West Precinct Captain Jerry Wiley, Thornton’s fellow officers were shocked by his arrest. He commented that we investigate criminals, but sometimes they wear blue uniforms.

While off duty,Thornton was picked on Thursday and then charged on Friday.  Court records were not clear as to whether or not Thornton has an attorney.

Although Thornton has not been charged in a series of fires in Ensley, he is considered a suspect in these fires, too.  Investigators say 12 house fires had been set intentionally in Ensley.

Fire Marshal Paulk spoke with FOX 6 News about the different motivations for an arsonist.  Paulk stated the most dangerous arsonists are the serial arsonists, and they often share several characteristics.  These arsonists are usually male and have a history of substance abuse and of police arrests.  They are dangerous because their actions create an atmosphere of fear in a community.  Paulk state that the fire will naturally attract people, but if you start seeing more than one (person) at an area where there are fires and see them on multiple occasions that could lead to suspicions.

Authorities haven’t confirmed that the Ensley fires are the work of a serial arsonist, but they do believe the fires are related.


Ensley House Fires Believed to be Set Intentionally

Birmingham authorities are searching for the person who set three fires at Ensley homes on Friday morning. The homes were within three blocks of each other.

Birmingham Fire and Rescue officials stated that all homes were vacant and no one was injured in the blazes.  Though there were no injuries, officials did say that anytime a fire breaks out, occupied homes and occupants nearby are in danger.

Residents who live in the area say the burnt remains are a sore eye for the community they are trying to revitalize.  Natalie Streety, who works nearby, said that it’s a huge deal because we are trying to build the community up  and it kind of looks bad right across the street.

C.W. Mardis, Fire and Rescue spokesperson, says investigators are now canvassing the area to try and find a common thread between all of the fires.

According to Mardis, police and firefighters are investigating this string of fires that started May 15.  These are the fires that investigators believe are linked:

  • Tuesday, May 15: 2407 31st St., midnight; 2812 Avenue S, 1:50 a.m., 1783 52nd Street, 4:45 a.m.
  • Friday, May 18:  2532 Warrior Rd., 1:40 a.m.; 2901 Ensley Ave, 7:26 a.m.
  • Saturday, May 19:  825 Cherry Ave, Timber Ridge Apartments, 12:51 a.m.; 2924 Avenue W, 1:45 a.m.; 2919 Avenue S, 4:52 a.m.
  • Sunday, May 20:  1522 Monroe Ave., 2:28 a.m.; 4624 Avenue U, 2:42 a.m.; 2501 Avenue S, 3:51 a.m.; 3000 Ensley Ave., 3:56 a.m.

Mardis said these fires are likely connected.  All were vacant homes within close proximity to each other.  Investigators have narrowed down the leads in their probe into the linked fires. He commented that we will eventually get the culprits as we have our own resources out there and should have a resolution soon.

Anyone with information is asked to call Birmingham’s Fire Prevention Bureau at 250-7540.