A firefighter is being accused of arson and attempting to paint himself as a target due to his pro-"Blue Lives Matter" stance.
Jason Stokes, a 41-year-old firefighter in Endicott, New York, has been accused of setting fire to his own home on Aug. 10, while his wife and two teenage children were inside. The family was able to escape, and at the time of the fire, a family member told 12 News that the home seemed to have been targeted. After a lengthy investigation, Stokes was charged with second-degree arson, to which he plead not guilty in a Broome County Court last Thursday (Dec. 1). He was arraigned and indicted on Tuesday (Dec. 6), and he is currently being held at the Broome County Jail with a bail of $10,000 in cash or $20,000 in property.
A terrorizing anti-police message -- "lie with pigs, fry like bacon" -- was found spray-painted on the back of the home. In the front of the home flew a "Blue Lives Matter" flag. In a press conference today, Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell suggested his belief that Stokes had written the message in order to cover up his crime and make it look like he was targeted for his "Blue Lives Matter" support.
At this point, the main indicator of arson is that multiple containers full of gasoline and other flammable material were found throughout the home, "as if it would be an obstacle course," said Cornwell.
As Cornwell suggested the home had been booby trapped, it is unclear if anyone (namely Stoke's family or those who would respond to the fire) is presumed to be a target. When alerted of the fire, the firefighters were unaware of all of the gas containers when entering the home, though upon discovering and removing them, they were able to extinguish the fire in a timely manner.
Cornwell confirmed that, at this time, he believes Stokes is the only suspect behind the alleged arson. No motive for the crime has yet been revealed, though Cornwell pointed out that the legal aim will be to discover not motive but intent.
[via WBNG 12 News]