Five former firefighters indicted on arson charges


UER MARLBORO, Md. (WDVM) — Five former volunteer firefighters with the West Lanham Volunteer Fire Department have been indicted for arson after allegedly starting four separate fires between December 2019 and January 2020.

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said these five firefighters allegedly “conspired with” three civilians to set the fires at vacant homes during times when the firefighters would be on duty to put out the fires.

“When individuals who have an oath to protect us, when they violate that oath, we have to take action,” Braveboy said during the conference.

The suspects have been identified as 26-year-old Jeremy Hawkins of North Potomac, 19-year-old Nicholas Holzberger of Riverdale, 24-year-old George Smith of Purceville, Va, 24-year-old Jay St. John of Centreville, VA and 21-year-old Cole Vazquez of Bowie.

Hawkins was taken into custody on Wednesday while the other four were issued a criminal summons, officials said.

This follows an investigation that began in January 2020 when suspicions first arose.

“Subsequent investigations revealed that the former firefighters who have been indicted, had knowledge of and were involved in the planning of arsons for the purpose of responding and extinguishing those fires,” Battalion Chief Shajahan Jagtiani said.

These four alleged arsons in total caused an estimated $260,000 worth of damage.

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