More charges against suspect arrested in Queens mall fires

Jim Dolan reports from Forest Hills.
February 25, 2014 3:53:31 AM PST
A man was taken into custody Monday for allegedly setting fires in two malls in Queens, and he has since been charged in a number of incidents.

Dereck Sumair, 23, was taken into custody after a police officer recognized him from a surveillance photo.

A fires was reported Monday afternoon at Macy's in the Queens Center Mall, as well as at four stores at the Rego Park Center.

No injuries were reported.

Police believe Sumair was also responsible for earlier incidents at the Rego Park Center after small fires broke out Sunday at T.J. Maxx and Staples, and on Friday at Sears.

The suspect is charged with 12 counts of arson, 11 counts of endangerment, 18 counts of mischief in connection with incidents at 10 commercial establishments and a school.

"They were limited to content fire, no structural fires," FDNY Deputy Chief David Schiralli said. "The sprinkler here in Sears activated. The fires were put out with basically cans or fire extinguisher and dry chemical extinguishers. All searches were negative. There were no injuries to any civilians or fire personnel."

Authorities say the man just kept setting fires until he was caught, and it was the NYPD that prevented things from getting a lot worse. One of the police officers at the scene Monday had a surveillance camera picture from Sunday's fire at Staples.

That sharp-eyed police officer saw a man leaving Burlington Coat Factory who looked just like a man who was leaving Sunday's fire and grabbed him.

Sources say that man, Sumair, confessed to the other fires as well.