NY teens held on $50,000 bail in church arsons

| July 6, 2009

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Two Onondaga Indian Nation teenagers were each being held Monday on $50,000 cash bail after being charged with setting fires that damaged one church and left another in ruins on the reservation just south of Syracuse.

Police charged 17-year-old Dylan Antone and 16-year-old Jacob Homer with third-degree arson and burglary. They each pleaded not guilty at their arraignments in DeWitt town court Sunday night. Town Justice David Gideon said he considered them a flight risk and set a high bail.

The Wesleyan Chapel Church was heavily damaged and had to be torn down. Damage was not as severe at the United Methodist Church. Neither church was having a service when the fires were reported at 8:20 a.m. and 9 a.m. Sunday. Authorities said it took about two hours to get the fires under control.

The teens’ court-appointed lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.


Police were continuing their investigation and said they had not established a motive. Investigators said the teens did not use any accelerants.

Deputies learned the teens’ identities when people they interviewed reported seeing them near the churches before the fires, said Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Bob Burns.

Marcelline McLean, pastor of the United Methodist Church, said she had no doubt about her congregation’s resiliency.

"The building we call church. But that’s not the real church. The real church is the people who have spent their lives and their prayers and their hopes and their dreams on this sacred piece of land. You can’t take that away from any of us," said McLean.



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Category: Church Security

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