ATF offering $5,000.00 reward in two recent Arson investigations, seeks person of interest

Anyone with information about either of these fires, about the person or persons who committed either of these fires, or about the individual in the video is asked to contact investigators immediately.

NEWARK (DE): The ATF, who is assisting the Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office with it’s investigation of two recent fires that have been classified as arson is offering a $5,000.00 reward.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division is offered a reward of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for setting fire to a townhouse on Aug. 17 and the Chabad Center for Jewish Life on Aug. 25, both in Newark., according to a news release.

“At this time, investigators do not have evidence linking the two fires together but have not ruled out that possibility.,” said ATF spokeswoman Amanda Hills. “ATF Special Agents from the Wilmington Field Office are working alongside the Delaware Office of the State Fire Marshal.”

On Monday August 17, 2020, shortly after 3 a.m., a fire was discovered inside a townhouse under construction in the unit block of East Cleveland Avenue. The interior of the townhouse was damaged by fire, which investigators determined to be intentionally set. The townhouse was unoccupied when the fire damage was discovered and there were no reported injuries. Damage is estimated at $5,000.

During the course of the investigation by the Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office, an individual was captured on video surveillance in the area of East Cleveland Avenue on the morning of the fire has been classified as a person of interest. The Fire Marshal’s Office also cautioned that the person of interest may also be a witness. However, investigators would like to speak with the individual regarding anything suspicious they may have seen.

Then shortly after 11 p.m. on August 25, 2020, a blaze was reported in the 200 block of South College Avenue. The building where the fire occurred houses the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and the fire was determined to be intentionally set. Heavy fire damage is estimated at $200,000. There were no reported injuries. There is currently no indication to suggest that this fire was a hate crime.

It’s not the only string of Arson investigations in Delaware. On Monday July 21, 2020, a fire broke out at The Reach Church shortly before 11:00 Pm and caused approximately $250,000 in damages said Robert Cox, Chief Deputy Fire Marshal for New Castle County.

The Aetna Hose Hook and Ladder Company of Newark was alerted to the fire alarm in the 2800 block of Summit Bridge Road shortly before 11:00 pm.

According to a news release, responding fire units found smoke and fire conditions within the sanctuary and quickly upgraded the fire alarm to a building fire and several neighboring companies were alerted to respond to assist.

Pastor Chuck Betters says when he arrived at the church, the firefighters were cutting holes in the steeple to release the smoke.

Investigators say, no one was injured in the fire and Deputies from the State Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene to conduct an investigation. The investigation revealed that multiple fires originated inside of the Sanctuary and were caused by an unknown subject igniting combustible material.

Later that week, Thomas Loftis III was developed as a suspect after being identified in area surveillance videos. He was taken into custody and charged with Arson in the 2nd degree, Burglary in the 2nd degree, and Criminal Mischief.

Anyone with information about either of these fires, about the person or persons who committed either of these fires, or about the individual in the video is asked to contact investigators immediately.

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To provide tips to ATF Special Agents, call 888-ATF-TIPS (888-283-8477) or send an email to ATFTips@atf.gov.
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To provide tips to the Delaware Office of the State Fire Marshal’s New Castle Division, call 302-323-5375 or email fire.marshal@delaware.gov.
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ATF is the federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson. More information about ATF and its programs is available at www.atf.gov. Follow @ATFBaltimore on Twitter for more news about ATF’s work in Delaware and Maryland.
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