Nyack residents are still shaken from the recent arson incidents.
A 16-year-old Nyack boy was on arson charges stemming from set in Nyack early Tuesday on Summit Street and Washington Street in Nyack and a separate fire over the weekend, Orangetown police said Thursday morning.
Investigation efforts that unlocked a series of connections, which led to Wednesday's arrest of Jonathan Barillas. Although he's now behind bars, residents on Summit Street have mixed feelings.
Fernando and Rosa Hudson are just a few houses down from their neighbors whose cars were set on fire.
“The night it happened, it was scary because there were all these popping sounds (from the fire). It was probably pockets of oil burning and exploding in the car,” said Fernando Hudson, adding that he and his wife thought that the popping noise was gunshots at first.
He said that he had a hunch that it may have been caused by an adolescent because he said there's been times in the past where small rocks were thrown at his home by a group of teens or that same group would be roughhousing around the neighborhood.
"I also could tell they were young because older people can't run like that. When this happened, I was hoping it wasn't those young children getting into more dangerous things," he said. "I felt more irritation than real anger. I don't feel safer or less safe. This is a fine neighborhood and I feel sorry for the young kid that was caught doing it. At least it was just juvenile madness and not a concerted effort.”
Barillas is also charged with stealing items from unlocked cars throughout the Summit Street neighborhood the same morning as the fires. Hudson added that they “were lucky” because their car was not locked that night.
“Our car has been broken into by vagrants, again not a concerted effort to do evil things, just lost souls,” he said.
Several doors down, another Summit Street resident also said he thought the popping sounds were shots being fired too.
“I thought it was a gun,” said Fred Garmone. Garmone’s neighbors at 35 Summit St. had to evacaute their home because the car fire spread to the side of their house.
Garmone said that the resident opposite of 35 Summit St. was awake and noticed the fire through her window.
“She came out yelling,” said Garmone. “Our window was open so we heard her and we came out of the house too.”
“Thank God she was up; she was up watching TV and saw the (car) fire,” said another neighbor, who chose not to be named. “She ran out onto the street yelling. We knew something was strange (and that it wasn't just a random accident) because before the firefighters came, the car door was open and burning.”
Garmone added that although many residents are happy that the police arrested Barillas, this is not the first nor will it be the last of issues that their neighborhood encounters.
“When I saw the news today, I was pretty relieved. (Before seeing the news of Barillas’ arrest), I was still thinking that he could be out there and could strike again,” said Garmone. “I think we feel better that the person is caught, but I think that everyone around here feels that … there are other issues on this street. We talked about having a neighborhood meeting with the mayor to talk about some of our issues. This has brought everything to the forefront, like minor things that’s been going on. We’ve had an issue with squatters … living in abandoned houses and drunk traffic and (indecent behavior from strangers).”
Another Summit Street resident suggested starting a neighborhood watch group.