Portland police charge 2nd teen arson case

Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck
Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck
Posted April 01, 2014, at 10:16 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland police charged a local teenager Monday afternoon with Class A arson in connection with at least one in a series of trash fires set around the city during the weekend of March 22.

Aaron Hornbeck-Fielder, 18, of Portland was taken into custody after an interview with investigators at 3:10 p.m. Monday, according to Portland Police Lt. James Sweatt.

Hornbeck-Fielder is the second man arrested for setting a trash fire in Portland that weekend. Robert Johnson, 19, also of Portland, was arrested and charged with arson the night of May 23, soon after a fire was reported in a pile of garbage gathered in a secluded corner in the rear of the Portland Museum of Art building.

Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck told reporters on May 24 that a second man who had been with Johnson the night of the alleged crime had also been interviewed, but released at the time. It was not immediately clear Tuesday morning whether Hornbeck-Fielder was that man.

In addition to the Portland Museum of Art fire, approximately eight other Dumpster or trash can fires were set around the city between March 22 and March 23, Sauschuck has said. Those fires were discovered on locations on Center Street, Forest Avenue, Commercial Street, Danforth Street and Congress Street, the chief said at the time.

Hornbeck-Fielder has been charged with starting a Dumpster fire to the rear of 121 Center St. on March 23.

In a Tuesday morning announcement, Sweatt said that investigators believe all the fires are connected and more charges may be forthcoming.

The investigation is ongoing, and Sweatt urged anyone who may have witnessed suspicious activity near Dumpsters or trash cans on the nights in question to call police at 874-8533.

Both Hornbeck-Fielder and Johnson have been charged with Class A crimes, which are punishable by up to 30 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.

Portland Fire Chief Jerome LaMoria said in the aftermath of the crimes that “although [the fires] were not of a particularly serious size or scope,” they could have injured passing residents or jeopardized nearby buildings, and unnecessarily tied up firefighters who could have been needed for more serious work elsewhere in the region.

 

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