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Man Arrested for Setting a Dozen Fires at Queens Malls, NYPD Says

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | February 25, 2014 1:42pm
 A man was taken into custody by police after a series of fires broke out in two Queens malls Monday.
Queens mall fires
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QUEENS — A Jamaica man was arrested for allegedly setting 12 fires at two busy Queens malls in five days, police said.

Dereck Sumair, 23, set the first blaze last Thursday about 9:45 p.m. at the Sears store at the Rego Center Mall, police said.

He struck again on Sunday, starting fires at four stores at the shopping center in less than four hours, beginning at Toys “R” Us at 4 p.m., then moving to Staples at 6:50 p.m., JC Penney at 6:55 p.m. and eventually T.J.Maxx at 7:45 p.m., police said.

The following day, Sumair allegedly started another string of fires. This time, police said, he began at the nearby Queens Center Mall, where he set a blaze at Macy’s at 1:45 p.m., at Best Buy at 1:55 p.m. and at Target at 2 p.m.

He then returned to the Rego Center Mall, setting fires at Old Navy at 2:55 p.m., at Bed Bath & Beyond at 3 p.m., at Burlington Coat Factory at 3:05 p.m. and at Sears at 3:15 p.m., police said.

FDNY Deputy Chief Joseph Schiralli said Monday that "there was no structural" damage caused by the blazes at the Rego Center Mall. "We extinguished the fires pretty quickly," he noted.

No one was injured during the incidents.

Sumair, who was arrested after an officer recognized him from surveillance footage, was charged with 12 counts of arson, 11 counts of reckless endangerment and 18 counts of criminal mischief in connection with incidents and allegedly throwing rocks at a school. The details of those incidents were not immediately released by the NYPD.

The motive for setting the fires has not been determined, police said.

Police and fire officials at the scene told DNAinfo that they believed the suspect used a cigarette lighter to set the fires, but on Tuesday morning a spokesman for the FDNY said that the method used to set the blazes had not yet been confirmed.

In 2012, Sumair was charged with reckless endangerment and assault, police said. Details for those incidents were not immediately available.