Flint, MI Fire Chief Helps Bust Suspected Serial Arsonist — Only 11 Years Old
Flint, MI Fire Chief David Cox
(Mlive.com) FLINT, MI — One of the city’s most notorious arsonists has been taken off the street, and Fire Chief David Cox says the accused is just 11 years old.
“This dude is a terror,” said Cox, who helped find the juvenile suspect, after a Wednesday, Aug. 20, fire in the area of Concord Street and Milbourne Avenue.
Arsons have been occurring steadily in the same area this summer. Cox said neighbors have reported the same youngÂ suspect and his friends having been nearby at the time of the fires, only to go into hidingÂ before firefighters and police arrive.
Investigators believe the 11-year-old who Cox helped trap in an abandoned house Wednesday is among a groupÂ responsible forÂ at least three fires in the same neighborhood recently.
“This has been going on for months. They have been having their way all summer,” Cox said. “These kids wereÂ so tough — they had pit bulls at (an abandoned)Â house they had access to.”
“The whole neighborhood knew (they were responsible),” Cox said. “When I chased him (down), five or six neighbors came out and cheered.”
Cox said he was able to corner the 11-year-old suspect in the abandoned house and called for police backup. He said he was on the lookout for the juveniles as soon as he heard the location of the fire.
Flint Police Sgt. Dave Bigelow said the 11-year-old has been questioned by police and released to his motherÂ asÂ the investigation remains open.
“They run with these 14- and 15-year-old kids and think it’s cool,” Bigelow said. “These kids are responsible for quite a few fires … (They are) definitely out doing mischief.”
Overall structure fires in Flint have been on a sharp decline through Aug. 16, down 37 percent compared to the same time last year.
Cox told members of a City Council committee Thursday, Aug. 21, that the city’s demolition program, fueled by millions of dollars in federal funds, is taking some of the most likely arson targets off the landscape.
“I attribute that (reduction) to houses being town down and the arson squad,” the chief said.
Although the city has just 60 active firefighters, Cox said the department has been able to keep three to five stations open by assigning just three firefighters to each truck.
“It’s a big change from what the Fire Department was, but we are making it work,” he said.
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