The Lower Paxton Township Police Department has been investigating a series of suspicious structure fires which occurred within several blocks of each other. Investigators have determined that the fires had been intentionally set and were in fact arson.
The fire locations were as follows:
April 17, 2017 in the 100 block of Wyndham Way. An arson fire occurred which caused major damage to four townhouses, some of which were occupied by their owners at the time of the fires. The residents were evacuated and no one suffered injury. The occupants had to be relocated to temporary housing due to the extensive damage to their homes.
May 5, 2017 in the 4900 block of Berkley Street. An arson fire occurred at a building used as a daycare. At the time of the fire, no one was in the building. The fire was quickly spotted by a citizen, who called 911 and the fire was quickly extinguished by responding Fire and Police personnel. The fire caused minor damage.
May 7, 2017 in the 100 block of Wyndham Way. Two arson fires occurred and were set at the same time, at two different townhouses. The fires were quickly spotted and extinguished. No one was injured.
Through a cooperative investigation, involving several agencies, a suspect was identified. The agencies assisting Lower Paxton Police were the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office, the Swatara Township Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the Colonial Park Fire Company and Summit Search and Rescue.
As a result of the investigation, on May 15, 2017, the Lower Paxton Township Police Department arrested Jake Thomas Reader, age 21 of Lower Paxton Township, for intentionally setting these fires. Reader was charged with the following:
Felony, first degree: Arson Endangering Persons, 4 counts.
Felony, first degree: Arson of an Occupied Structure, 4 counts.
Felony, third degree: Risking Catastrophe, 4 counts.
Misdemeanor, second degree: Recklessly Endangering Another Person, 3 counts.
Reader was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Michael Smith and committed to Dauphin County Prison in lieu of $2,000,000 bail. A Preliminary Hearing has been scheduled in this case for June 6, 2017 at 9:30 AM at Magisterial District Judge Joseph Lindsey's Office.
During the course of the investigation, it was determined that Reader had once served as a volunteer firefighter at the Colonial Park Fire Company. Reader was dismissed by the Fire Company last year for reasons unrelated to any of the charged arsons. Throughout the investigation, the Colonial Park Fire Company cooperated fully and provided valuable information, which assisted in bringing the investigation to a successful conclusion.