By: Richard L. Smith
Authorities in Newark are on the search for a suspect wanted for attempting to burn down a fully occupied building in the Central Ward Wednesday evening.
Fire alarms blared inside the multi-family apartment building at 220 Irvine Turner Boulevard, which had residents evacuate the building around 5:54 p.m.
"Because the building has very poor security, homeless individuals inside, and kids vandalizing the halls, we thought it was the usual pulling of fire alarms. So, some of us were hesitant to leave until we smelled gas," a resident told RLS Media.
When emergency responders arrived at the scene, they noticed a strong gas odor inside the halls and stairwells.
Whatever the motive for the crime, the suspect is wanted for attempted arson.
Police investigating the scene viewed surveillance video and found an unidentified person carrying a gas canister and pouring several gallons of gas through the halls in what appeared to be an attempt to set the building on fire.
No one inside the building suffered any injuries, and there was no damage to the structure.
SECURITY PROBLEMS SINCE ITS INCEPTION:
First lauded by Lt. Governor Shiela Oliver as a "shining example" of what successful developments should look like, Boulevard West was the first of other developments expected to take place on the New Horizons site and Felix Fuld public housing site.
" I commend the public and private partners who have created yet another amazing, affordable, mixed-use housing opportunity. Together we are creating a stronger and fairer New Jersey for all residents, regardless of income level." -Lt. Governor Shiela Oliver
Officials said the redevelopment of both sites was expected to transform this Central Ward community, bring jobs, support the local workforce, and boost economic opportunities.
Residents who live inside 220 Irvine Turner Boulevard said they beg to differ with Lt. Governor Oliver; the building has had serious security concerns since several months after it opened.
“This building is not secure, management refuses to fix broken doors or get security guard. This is an ongoing problem with the teenagers coming in destroying the building and setting off the fire alarms”, residents said.
After several attempts, RLS Media could not reach building management.
While some residents believe that the suspect attempting to torch the building was a homeless male who frequented the stairwell, others told RLS Media that they heard an argument erupt between two men about 30 minutes before they evacuated.
Police have not announced any arrests in the case.