Three local men have been arrested and charged with arson for allegedly torching a police officer’s cruiser and personal automobile last June.
Marcelous Hawkins, 18, most recently of Edsall Road in Alexandria; Russell Middleton Jr., 19, of no fixed address; and Trent Turner, 20, also of no fixed address, were arrested between Friday, Sept. 6, and Tuesday, Sept. 10. They are being held in the Alexandria Detention Center pending court proceedings.
“We have spent hundreds of man hours on this investigation, and it is still ongoing,” said Alexandria fire marshal Michael Conners. “I cannot say enough about the cooperation among the fire department, the police department and the Commonwealth Attorney’s office.”
On June 2, the police officer [whose identity is being withheld at the request of the police department] left home to go to work on a scheduled detail. The officer’s cruiser was parked approximately 50 feet from the back door of her home.
“When I went out, I noticed that the gas cap was off, and there was something in the gas tank,” the officer said. “When I looked more closely, I realized that what was in it was a rag that had burned. That’s when I realized that someone had tried to torch my cruiser.”
The damage to the cruiser was limited to the quarter panel near the gas cap. The officer called other officers to investigate and they told her that she could go on to work.
“I had been at work for a while when someone called me and told me that all that was left of my car was a volleyball,” the officer said. “That was when I realized they were now talking about my personal car.” That car was a 1996 Saab convertible.
“They had cut the top and doused the interior with something flammable,” she said. “The only thing that was left was the lower half of the frame.”
THE OFFICER, who has spent her career investigating crime, found herself a victim. “I felt angry and frightened, not for myself but for my child,” she said. “The cruiser was very close to my home, and if it had blown up, it could have caused harm to my family and other families living near me. If it could simply have remained a law-enforcement issue, that would have been one thing. This wasn’t just law enforcement. It was personal.”
There have been other consequences as well. “I have relocated and had to change positions,” she said. “There was also the inconvenience and expense of replacing my car. My child is still traumatized, and it will take some time for recovery. I guess I feel the same kinds of emotions that every victim feels.”
Erik Barnet is the Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney who is handling the case. He confirmed that the three suspects have been charged with arson, a Class 4 felony that carries a penalty of from two to 10 years in prison.