Public tips cause Mill Park arsonists to ‘turn themselves in’

Find out why officials say that what this pair did behind Mill Park Elementary went way beyond being a prank …

All is quiet on this evening at Mill Park Elementary School – but authorities went into high gear to find the men whose Dumpster fire could have torched this school, back in March. David F. Ashton / East Portland News photo

By David F. Ashton
Some might chalk it up to just “boys playing with matches”.

But the garbage Dumpster at Mill Park Elementary School, at 1900 SE 117th Avenue, intentionally set on fire on the evening of March 6, wasn’t set ablaze by children, it turned out.

Two young adults light the dumpster on fire – and run from the scene. Still frame of surveillance video

Surveillance video of the crime showed guys who looked old enough to know better.

“Portland Fire & Rescue Arson Investigators asked for the public’s help to identify the two arson suspects,” said Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson, adding that they were males, in their late teens or early 20s.

Soon, the Dumpster is ablaze – under the eaves of the school building. Still frame of surveillance video

Firefighters arrive to extinguish the fire before it ignites Mill Park Elementary School. Still frame of surveillance video

Fortunately, the fire did not set the outer East Portland school ablaze, as originally reported to 911 operators – but the fireball captured on camera certainly could have made it appear as if the school itself was burning.

When officials released this image of the arson suspects, the Arson Investigator’s phone started ringing. Still frame of surveillance video

Arrested in this case: 24-year-old Daniel Cristurean, and 24-year-old Jonathan Austin Weatherall. MCDC booking photos

“The two suspects turned themselves in on June 27,” Simpson said, updating the story.

24-year-old Daniel Cristurean was arrested at 4:35 p.m. and was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 5:08 p.m. that evening.

Then, at 6:45 p.m. 24-year-old Jonathan Austin Weatherall was officially arrested, and he was booked at MCDC at 7:17 p.m.

“Both suspects were booked on charges of Reckless Burning, Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree, and Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree,” Simpson said.

After being charged with Class A, B, and C Misdemeanors, Cristurean and Weatherall were both “Released on Own Recognizance” that same evening.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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