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Hoke junior firefighters accused of setting fires out of boredom

Posted April 27, 2012

— Five Hoke County junior volunteer firefighters set buildings and brush on fire and then came back to extinguish them because they were bored and wanted a thrill, according to county Fire Marshal Freddie Johnson.

Hector Cruz Jr., 19, David Landry, 18, Alveano Devon Blackwell, 17, and Dayeshandre Kemp and Justin King, both 16, are accused of setting four buildings on fire between Feb. 20 and March 24 and four brush fires between March 4 and April 14.

All five worked with the Hillcrest Fire Department and have since been dismissed, fire officials said.

Cruz is charged with five counts of felony conspiracy, one count of felony breaking and entering, three counts of burning certain buildings, two counts of misdemeanor larceny and one count of filing a false police report.

Kemp is charged with two counts of felony conspiracy, one count of burning certain buildings and two counts of misdemeanor larceny of gasoline and road flares.

Landry is charged with five counts of felony conspiracy, three counts of burning certain buildings, two counts of felony breaking and entering and four counts of misdemeanor larceny.

Kemp, Cruz and Landry were released on unsecured bonds to the custody of their parents. Similar charges were pending for King and Blackwell.

They are not charged with arson, officials said, because no one was inside the buildings that were burned.

"All the kids were smart, kept A-B averages in school," said Hillcrest Fire Chief Michael Scott. "They went down the wrong path. They ruined their life at such a young age."

Five Hoke County junior volunteer firefighters set buildings and brush on fire and then came back to extinguish them because they were bored and wanted a thrill, according to county Fire Marshal Freddie Johnson Five Hoke County junior volunteer firefighters set buildings and brush on fire

Four of the teens attend Hoke County High School, and the fifth is home-schooled.

Officials say an investigation into the fires began April 14, when investigators received a call reporting fires in a wooded area behind the Walmart in Raeford. The sheriff's office said a caller provided information about three suspects and a license plate number for a vehicle.

One of the houses that burned – an empty two-story colonial – was near Linda Mailman's house. She saw an eerie glow through the trees, she said, and was scared.

"It started going through the woods ... which was going to head to my house," Mailman said. "I'm shocked. I'm shocked, and it makes me angry that they have nothing better to do than to pull a stunt like that ... I don't even know who would hire them right now if they see that on their record."

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  • seumfithy Apr 27, 2012

    In legal terms, arson refers to setting a fire to a structure that is used as a dwelling. Does not matter if someone is in it or not. Intentionally burning a structures not used as a dwelling is called an unlawful burning under the law. Maybe the house was vacant? That is why they are not charged with arson.

  • Sherlock Apr 27, 2012

    Does the county even do a background on these firefighter?

  • ladyblue Apr 27, 2012

    ladyblue- They were Junior Firefighters, that means that they just learn, fund raise and participate in parades. They do no actual firefighting or emergencys

    LOL thank you for explaining as i was sure confused. that makes sense now that you cleared me up . I know little about firefighters except that they are very brave individuls to run into fires while others are running
    away..

  • Rebelyell55 Apr 27, 2012

    Not surprise, how many time have we seen story of this nature, just to find out it's a wanna be, or thrill seeking fireman.

  • MrsRogers09 Apr 27, 2012

    Ladyblue - Everything that mmuratore75 said is absolutely true. Jr Firefighters are very limited in the things that they are allowed to do. It is a great program for interested youth. I know this because I was a volunteer firefighter from the age of 16 until I was 24. It kept other Jrs and myself out of trouble and gave us valuable training that we could put to use when we were old enough to participate on calls. Unfortunately for these young men, that just wasn't the case.

  • i2cu4sure Apr 27, 2012

    If they received a paycheck for fighting the fires they set, doesn't that constitute fraud?? 1st degree arson requires the presence of someone in the building, but 2nd degree arson, a Class G Felony, doesn't read as requiring anyone present.

  • mmuratore75 Apr 27, 2012

    ladyblue- They were Junior Firefighters, that means that they just learn, fund raise and participate in parades. They do no actual firefighting or emergencys

  • ladyblue Apr 27, 2012

    They are not charged with arson, officials said, because no one was inside the buildings that were burned.

    learn something new every day. i didn't know anyone had to be inside a building to call it arson. I would think if anyone is inside a building and you set it on fire it should be arson and attempted murder for burning the house with some inside

  • ladyblue Apr 27, 2012

    Alveano Devon Blackwell, 17, and Dayeshandre Kemp and Justin King, both 16,

    How in the world can they be volunteer fire fighters at this age. Maybe that is one of the problem... With the labor department monitoring youth workers to keep them from danger I'm surprised that these two were even allow to volunteer. they won't even let my 16 year old friend's child work in bakery section at Foodlion due to the fact she'd be around danger.

  • Glock Ranger Apr 27, 2012

    Not charge with arson because nobody was in the buildings? That doesn't make any sense, to me. They burned these buildings for their self-gratification and placed other people, and properties in danger. What's up with this?

    At the very lease we have a case of budding arsonists. This should be dealt with in the strongest terms to deter these young men, and others like them, from doing things like this.

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