Police: Trail Leading to Suspect in Nyack Arsons Started with a Video

Background checks by detectives connected early-morning incidents that terrified neighborhood to Nyack 16-year-old.

In the aftermath of an , Orangetown police started reaching out to the community for clues that could help them determine who had set fire to four cars adjacent to occupied homes around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.

That effort, police said, led to a video that unlocked a series of connections which led to Wednesday's .

Orangetown Police Det. Sgt. George Garrecht said the investigation, so far, has shown all of the arson incidents appear to be random acts and did not target any single individual, family, home or car.

The incident that led to Barillas' arrest was Tuesday morning's chaotic scene just two blocks east of Main Street in Nyack. Orangetown Police and volunteers of the Nyack Fire Department were called to a report of a fire at 35 Summit St. However, what they found were three cars on fire within about two blocks, with one of the fires spreading to the home at 35 Summit St.

Later in the morning, police learned a fourth car had been set on fire less than a block away. The interior of the car at 47 Summit St. was damaged and the fire was contained to the car. A 2012 Jeep was destroyed in the rear 23 Summit St., at the corner of Jackson Avenue, where a shed was also damaged. Just across the street at 16 Washington St., which also backs on to Jackson Avenue, another car was heavily damaged by fire.

Nyack Fire Chief James Petriello on Tuesday morning called in arson investigators from the Rockland County Sheriff's Department, who worked along with Orangetown police in the investigation.

Garrecht said an outreach effort in the community led to the discovery of a security video from the affected neighborhood. The video did not show Barillas, Garrecht explained, but it led to the identification of a person who was then questioned by detectives.

That questioning led to the identification of several other people who were then questioned. Garrecht said the process of conducting background checks led detectives to Barillas.

Barillas is believed to have talked to others in his Nyack neighborhood about the fires. Police also said they were familiar with Barillas from previous unconnected matters.

Barillas is also charged with stealing items from unlocked cars throughout the Summit Street neighborhood the same morning as the fires. Garrecht said detectives are now trying to match multiple items — such as keys — with the vehicles they were taken from.

Detectives are uncertain what prompted the arson of the four vehicles that were set on fire. The vehicles were different makes and models and different ages.

Barillas has not been charged in connection with other recent thefts from unlocked cars that took place previously. However, the Summit Street investigation led to the disovery that a nearby fire on Sunday morning in downtown Nyack that was thought to be accidental was actually arson.

Garrecht said Barillas is charged with twice breaking into the offices at 13 Catherine Street, located just behind Main Street storefronts. Garrecht said Barillas was familiar with that building and is accused of stealing items including computer keyboards from the offices.

Barillas is charged with setting a fire that was discovered at 13 Catherine St. at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. The fire heavily damaged offices in the building. Although no one was injured, Orangetown police evacuated a Nyack man who was sleeping in an apartment adjacent to the burning offices.

Nyack firefighters initially believed the fire was an accident, possibly caused by an electrical problem. But Garrecht said the on-going investigation led to the discovery that the fire was arson.

Orangetown police ask that anyone with additional information related to the fires or the recent thefts from cars called detectives at 845-359-212.

Matt Foley August 23, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Great job by OPD Detectives on this one. Quick, old fashioned police work.


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