The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office was stunned to discover the identities of the culprits behind various fires throughout the county over the last two years.
Over the past 24 months, the police department has been working hard to find out who was setting random buildings and wooded areas ablaze. After receiving a crucial tip from an anonymous witness, investigators determined a number of firefighters were behind the crimes. Overall, the department expects to lay out over 90 arson-related charges to the ten volunteer firefighters behind the fires.
Melquan Williams, a 21-year-old volunteer fireman, has been arrested and charged with felony conspiracy and felony arson. Ashley Oxendine, an 18-year-old, is being charged with two counts of conspiracy and two counts of setting fire to woods. Jordan Emmanuel Hunt, an 18-year-old believed to be one of the main participants, has been charged with four counts of setting fire to grass and 12 counts of conspiracy. Willie Fuentes Strickland, a 42-year-old resident of Fairmont, was also implicated in the fires. He is being charged with one count of arson, three counts of conspiracy and two counts of setting fire to grass. Strickland is the oldest suspect of the volunteer firefighting group.
It remains unclear what the firefighter’s motives were in creating these unnecessary fires. The Robeson County Sherriff’s Office is asking the public to call in with any additional information they may have regarding these crimes. Lt. Kevin Graham can be reached at 910-671-3100. Police have noted that more arrests may be coming in the future.