A Jamaica man, who has been charged for setting a series of fires at multiple Queens shopping centers, has been held without bail and ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday.
“The defendant is charged with setting fires that were responsible for causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to many businesses, as well as endangering the lives of shoppers, store employees and responding firefighters,” Brown said. “These incidents should not be viewed as a prank. Arson is a serious crime that will be dealt with accordingly.”
Dereck Sumair, 23, was arraigned Wednesday on various charges of arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief in connection to the mall fires, according to the district attorney. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
According to police, Sumair was apprehended after allegedly setting a fire at a Burlington Coat Factory at the Rego Center mall, just before 4 p.m. Monday.
Earlier that afternoon, merchandise was set on fire at an Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond and Sears at the same 96-05 Queens Blvd. shopping center, the NYPD said.
On Monday, another blaze occurred at Macy’s at the nearby Queens Center mall at about 2:45 p.m., within about an hour of the other fires. Two more blazes were also set that afternoon at a Best Buy and Target at Queens Place, a block away, officials said.
Fires were also lit at a Toys”R”Us, Staples and T.J.Maxx at the Rego Center mall as well as a J.C. Penney at Queens Center Sunday evening, officials said.
On Thursday, Sumair allegedly set a blaze at the same Rego Center Sears from Monday.
No one was injured in any of the fires, but Sumair is accused of destroying clothing, towels, and other merchandise in the blazes, according to officials.
Surveillance photos from the Staples fire helped authorities identify the suspect as he was exiting the Burlington Coat Factory, police said.
When Sumair, was caught at the store, an officer allegedly found a lighter in his pocket, according to prosecutors. Afterwards, he allegedly admitted setting the mall fires.
Sumair was also charged with criminal mischief for breaking numerous windows with rocks at the Long Island Consultation Center in Rego Park on Dec. 19, 20 and 26. He allegedly told cops he “broke the windows for fun and to watch the police respond,” Brown said.
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