HOUSTON –- Two teenagers have been arrested in connection with a string of arson cases in the Memorial area, police said Wednesday morning.
Houston Fire Department Captain Ruy Lozano said 19-year-old Xavier McNight and his 15-year-old friend were taken into custody overnight Tuesday as a joint effort between HFD arson investigators and Spring Branch ISD police.
Both teens have been charged with arson and are in custody. They both once attended Stratford High School.
Police say McNight dropped out and the other teen was transferred to an alternative school.
An SBISD police officer got wind of the names of two suspects and conducted interviews to track them down.
It was early February when HFD and Crime Stoppers announced they were looking for the arsonist(s) responsible for setting a series of dangerous fires. The fires were set in dumpsters and apartment buildings from December 2012 through January. Officials said four of six fires set at apartment buildings were started in the complexes' stairwells, blocking escape routes for residents.
The residents at Sheffield Square Apartments on Perthshire Road have not yet been able to return home.
Dennis Smith is convinced his apartment was once on their hit list. Had it not been for a smoke detector in the hallway, he fears he never would have known a bottle of lighter fluid had been lit by his door.
“The flames were up, chest high, and I looked around. No one was there,” Smith said. “I was shocked and there was a flammable fluid in the middle of it. So I opened up the door and kicked it out.”
SBISD Chief Chuck Brawner said two of the fires occurred on school district property: one on the baseball fields behind Spring Forest Middle School and the other in a dumpster at Thornwood Elementary School.
So far, the teens are charged in one fire at an apartment complex on Perthshire.
There were no injuries at any of the fires, but Smith worried it was a matter of time.
“Arson is very, very bad and people could have gotten killed, and they could have been charged with that murder,” Smith said.
Investigators say additional charges are possible, as well as at least one more arrest.