11-year-old arsonist arrested in New Port Richey | News
New Port Richey, Florida - An 11-year-old was arrested on Thursday in connection with a series of fires that took place in a residential community in New Port Richey.
"The fire truck came- like three fire trucks. They just flew up the street," said Sharlene Hall, who lives near the suspect's home along Indiana Avenue and Vanburen Street.
Investigators say the child has been setting fires to trees, shrubs and homes since July of 2011.
"It's usually late at night. You know, 10 or even later. So you see the fire trucks and then all of a sudden it's squad cards," said David Lapore, who lives just two doors down from the suspect's home.
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Police told 10 News that they always suspected the child, but could never prove it because he was being protected by family members.
The number of fires that were set in the area increased over the last two weeks, so investigators planned to set up surveillance to catch him. But about an hour before the operation was supposed to begin on Wednesday, someone witnessed the child setting another fire.
It was that eye witness account that gave police the evidence they needed to lock him up in juvenile hall, and charge him with several felonies.
The pre-teen reportedly admitted to six of the eleven fires that were reported in the neighborhood, but they suspect he is behind the remaining five.
Investigators are still looking into whether the people who protected the child for the last year-and-a-half will face charges, but for the time being, residents are relieved that a suspect has been caught.
"He's off the street. Hopefully there'll be no more fires in the neighborhood," said resident Sharlene Hall.
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