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Troy police consider charges after arson death

5-27-15 New York:

LANSINGBURGH - An autopsy was being done Tuesday on a woman who died recently, weeks after being pulled from a fire in Lansingburgh.

Right now this is an arson investigation. We don't know the results of the autopsy yet, but depending on what they are, someone could be charged in connection with her death.

There is a memorial set up here at the scene for Grace Halpin. Neighbors say they want the people responsible for setting the fire, caught.

The apartment building on Second Avenue is boarded up and vacant now. Authorities say someone used gasoline to set the fire that started in the front of the building in the early morning hours of May 1. At least a dozen people were left homeless by the fire.

Firefighters say Halpin, who was in her 80s, was found in cardiac arrest on the first floor when they pulled her out of the burning building in a dangerous rescue.

Halpin died recently after weeks of treatment.

“She was a sweet lady, I used to talk to her every day, she used to sit out here,” recalled Bill Allen, who lives next door. He remembers the night the fire began.

“I was out late until about two in the morning filming, I like to film the stars. I went in right about quarter after two, two thirty. My dog around three o'clock wanted to go out and I opened the door and all of a sudden, there's fire people everywhere,” he remembered.

Sources close to the investigation say they believe a man who was living in the building may have been the target, and that he's a Level 1 sex offender.

Police say they have video of the beginning of the fire.

Investigators do not believe this fire is related to other suspicious fires that have plagued the neighborhood.

Outside the building on Second Avenue, there is a now a makeshift memorial with flowers and candles. On one bouquet, someone wrote, "To Grace, RIP Angel."

Allen says setting a fire was a cowardly thing to do, and he wants whoever is responsible to be brought to justice.

“We're trying to get out of here now. It's scary. It really is, you know. You kind of sleep with one eye open, one ear open, you know,” Allen admitted.

Police say they will be meeting with the district attorney on Wednesday. ..Source.. by WNYT Staff

Police interview suspect possibly connected to Lansingburgh arson

LANSINGBURGH, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Police have interviewed at least one suspect they believe is connected to a Lansingburgh arson that displaced 13 people.

Firefighters responded to a fire around 2:30 a.m. May 1 at 250 Second Ave. Thirteen people, including three young children, were displaced and an elderly woman nearly lost her life.

Police believe the fire was an act of retaliation against Level One sex offender David DuBois who lived on the second floor with his family.

Security footage taken that morning shows three potential suspects rushing from the building. Two of the suspects were badly burned, according to authorities. Law enforcement sources confirm that one of the suspects was recently questioned about the fire while being treated at a burn center in Syracuse

Mary Teal lived in the building. “I would say not sad that you are burned and that you need to take time in jail and thin about what you’ve done to all these people,” she said.

No arrests have been made, but they are expected to come soon. by Anya Tucker

Overnight fire in Lansingburgh deemed suspicious

ANSINGBURGH, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A fire that almost claimed the life of an elderly woman and left more than a dozen homeless may have been an act of revenge.

Firefighters responded to a fire around 2:30 a.m. Friday at 250 Second Ave.

One of the many displaced residents, Debra Febra, said she witnessed the fire firsthand and heard a loud explosion. Febra said she frantically knocked on her neighbors’ doors to wake them up.

“We could’ve all died,” she said. “It wasn’t an empty building. We could’ve died. If I wasn’t up watching T.V., I would’ve been dead. My neighbors would’ve been dead. There were babies there. We had an elderly lady that was trapped and she couldn’t get out.”

The American Red Cross and Mayor Lou Rosamilia were at the scene Friday morning to look at the damage and pay respect to those who lost their home.

“If there’s someone of that nature who has total disrespect for human life – and that’s what I see in this situation – if it was an arson, just total disrespect for human life, we are going to work vigilantly; get that person or those involved and put an end to it once and for all,” Rosamilia said.

Officials close to the investigation said the intended target of the fire appears to be a Level One sex offender named David Dubois Jr. He lived on the second floor where the fire started.

Dubois was convicted in 2004 of Sexual Misconduct. Troy police said he was arrested again in January for failing to register.

“I know I heard, ‘You rapist,’” Febra said. “I know I heard that, and I said, ‘What the hell is going on?’ and I saw it go boom! And I said, ‘Oh, my God.’”

Volunteers from the American Red Cross provided emergency aid to multiple families, totaling 13 people. The Red Cross provided financial assistance for food and clothing to ten adults and three children. Volunteers also provided temporary shelter to ten of those displaced by the fire.

“So, yes, I’m angry,” Febra said. “Settle your disputes with the police. Don’t start a fire.”

All residents made it out of the building, but according to Troy Fire Chief Tom Garrett, one woman in cardiac arrest was rescued from the first floor. Crews were able to restore the woman’s breathing, and she was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital. Garrett said she is doing remarkably well and currently recovering.

Troy police said there have been more than a dozen intentional fires in this particular area of Lansingburgh since last July. The unsolved arsons remain a concern for residents.

Authorities said they are continuing to investigate the fire but are not saying if they believe it is related to last summer’s fires.

No arrests have been made. by Carmen Chau, Anya Tucker

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