Tuesday, September 8, 2009
ATF RECEIVES FIRE/EMS DEPARTMENTS HIGHEST AWARD
Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones presented the Departments highest award to agents and forensic specialists from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Fire Chief Jones presented a Unit Citation to the ATF during a ceremony at the National Lab in Beltsville, Maryland on Thursday, September 4, 2009. In making the presentation Fire Chief Jones stated, “This case was made through the diligence and teamwork of a very talented group, including agents from the ATF and the personnel that work with forensic evidence.”
The ATF was part of an Arson Task Force that also included local and State agencies that received their Unit Citations earlier this year.
Beginning in March 2007 and continuing through August 2007 a series of fires were set in the Springhill Lake Apartment complex in Greenbelt, Maryland causing approximately 2 million dollars in damages. Springhill Lake Apartments are one of the largest apartment complexes on the east coast and contain 2,900 apartments for rent. The random nature of these fires, within the occupied buildings, caused thousands of residents to live in fear each day.
A task force was established to investigate the arsons which consisted of ATF, Prince George’s County Fire Department, Maryland State Fire Marshal and the Greenbelt City Police Department. Investigators followed numerous leads and collected evidence for laboratory analysis. As a result of their investigative efforts, a resident, Jeremiah Jones (21 years of age) was identified as a possible suspect. Jones lived with his parents in the Springhill Lake Apartments adjacent to the cluster of fires.
The task force quickly established surveillance (both mobile and video) of Jones and the exterior of his apartment building in an effort to obtain additional evidence and determine if Jones was, in fact, responsible for the fires. In addition, the ATF Forensic Science Laboratory conducted extensive forensic analysis of the numerous items of evidence recovered from the various fires. This analysis included DNA, trace, fingerprint and fire debris analysis.
On August 14, 2008, Jeremiah Jones pled guilty in U.S. District Court, Greenbelt, Maryland to nine (9) counts of arson relating to the fires in Springhill Lake Apartments in violation of 18 USC, Section 844(i). On April 2, 2009, Jones was sentenced by Judge Alexander Williams to 96 months imprisonment followed by 36 months of supervised released.