Local News

16-year-old charged in school fire

Posted July 14, 2009

— Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office investigators arrested a 16-year-old Tuesday and charged him in connection with setting fire to a school two weeks ago.

William Thomas Ellis, of Cawdor Drive, was charged with burning a schoolhouse. He was being held in the Cumberland County Detention Center under a $2,000 bond.

A July 1 fire at Douglas Byrd Middle School destroyed the school gymnasium and spread to the cafeteria, where it caused the roof to cave. No one was injured in the fire.

Investigators said Tuesday that fireworks started the fire.

Last week, authorities released videos from security cameras at neighboring Douglas Byrd High School that showed three people near the middle school around the time the fire started.

Authorities said the videos helped them identify several suspects, including Ellis, who is a student at Douglas Byrd High.

Other arrests are expected in the case, authorities said.

School officials said they hope to have most repairs to Douglas Byrd Middle complete when classes begin Aug. 25. Repairs to the gym, however, likely will not be complete, and students will have to share the high school gym.


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  • ncmidteacher Jul 17, 2009

    I agree with your post 100%!! :)

  • alwaysconcernedmom Jul 15, 2009

    Accidents happen. Kind of like, if I have an accident in my car, I pay for it, not the tax payers. So, He should pay for the repairs since he was on school property, playing with illegal fireworks...if that is true at all. And he is old enough to know better! When are we going to make our young people accountable for their actions????? You do the crime, you do the time!

  • trulyblessed Jul 15, 2009

    I agree.. Make him pay for it ..not the tax payers.. And you right damofo.. he will just get a slap on the hand..

  • thepeopleschamp Jul 15, 2009

    IF it was an accident, they should have come forward instead of making investigators look for them. When they try to conceal their actions it makes them look guilty of burning the school on purpose.

  • wonbyone74 Jul 15, 2009

    i believe that if they "threw" the fireworks on the building, they probably would have RAN from the scene...there is no video of that...and if i am not mistaken, i thought that fireworks that shoot up in the air are illegal...so, they were probably shooting them off in the open parking lot, and one fizzeled out (or in this case, DIDNT fizzle out) on the roof, thus causing the fire...

  • AC Man Jul 15, 2009

    wonbyone74: then make his Family pay for it not the Tax Payers

  • micah Jul 15, 2009

    How do you know that the fireworks in question were illegal?

  • wonbyone74 Jul 15, 2009

    this kid was raised by a great family...and i believe it was accidental...they were playing with fireworks just like everyone else around the holidays...this was an unfortunate accident, but it could have happened to anyone...how many people did i see shooting off illegal fireworks around housing and i not once saw a police come to stop it...the kid is now a "criminal" for an accident that any one of us could ahve had....its amazing how people are so quick to judge others when they dont look at everything surrounding the situation!!

  • FromClayton Jul 15, 2009

    i hope he gets a lot of trouble for it. thats our tax payer money fixing that school. wasteful!

  • garnertoy Jul 15, 2009

    make him pay for it if it takes him 50 years to pay it back