By: Richard L. Smith
Ocean County officials have announced the arrest of Mr. Steven Johnson, a 36-year-old resident of Little Egg Harbor Township, on charges related to a series of arson incidents.Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said Johnson faces three counts of Aggravated Arson for fires that occurred on January 6, January 10, and January 12, 2024, at the same residence in Little Egg Harbor Township.
The first incident was reported on January 6, 2024, at approximately 1:30 a.m.
The Little Egg Harbor Police Department and Fire Departments responded to a structure fire at a vacant property on Revolutionary Road. Firefighters successfully extinguished the blaze.
An in-depth investigation by several agencies, including the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad and the New Jersey State Fire Marshal's Office K-9 Unit, determined the fire was deliberately set using an ignitable liquid and an open flame.
A second incident involving a shed fire occurred on January 10, 2024, around 12:30 a.m. at the same address. Like the first, this fire was also found to be incendiary and caused by similar means.
Fortunately, the shed sustained no damage.
The breakthrough in the case came on January 12, 2024. Little Egg Harbor Township Police, conducting surveillance at the same Revolutionary Road residence, observed an individual, later identified as Johnson, the next-door neighbor, attempting to set fire to the attached deck of the property.
Prosecutor Billhimer said Johnson was seen pouring a liquid and then lighting and dropping an ignited item on the deck.Police acted swiftly to extinguish the fire, apprehend Johnson at his residence, and place him under arrest without incident.
Subsequent investigations confirmed Johnson's responsibility for all three fires. Following his arrest, Johnson was transported to the Ocean County Jail, where he is currently being held pending a detention hearing.
The series of fires and the subsequent arrest have alarmed the community, underscoring the seriousness of arson and the commitment of local law enforcement to ensuring public safety.