WNYT.com

Four face charges in Scotia arsons

Posted at: 03/14/2013 5:43 PM
Updated at: 03/14/2013 6:16 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann

SCOTIA - It was nearly three years ago on a June morning when Scotia police said a band of four teens struck a home on Fifth Street, throwing a Molotov cocktail onto the porch where it detonated, catching fire.

They said it was among four locations the group hit with the gasoline filled bottles, torching the siding on a North Ballston Avenue home, and a destroying a car parked in the driveway of another home on the same street.

"If you throw an incendiary device like a Molotov cocktail in an occupied home where people are inside, you could very easily kill them all," said Robert Carney, Schenectady County District Attorney.

Fortunately no one was hurt, although some of the homes were occupied. Now nearly three years later, police have charged four with the crimes: 20-year-old Shawn Dedrick , 21-year- old Gregory Mitchell, both of Scotia, along with 21-year-old Alexander Grandstaff of Rotterdam Junction, and 21-year-old Joseph Parkhurst of Schenectady.

The defendants face not only with first degree arson counts but also 'attempted arson' on the home of former police chief and current sergeant Thomas Rush, where police said the wick fell out of the bottle before it struck, so the device did not explode.

"If people are trying to target not only police officers but the chief of police who is ultimately responsible for law enforcement and public safety in a community and they're going to target the chief of police then the public is not safe," said Pete Frisoni, Scotia Police Chief.

Frisoni said the defendants specifically targeted Rush because they weren't happy with the way officers were monitoring their activities.

"Based on those officers, for lack of a better phrase, butting into their business, they took offense and they were apparently not going to take it anymore," Frisoni said.

Police said leads they obtained during more recent investigations along with evidence from the arson scenes, helped them break the case.

If convicted, the defendants face fifteen years to life in prison.