Arson suspect arrested
YOUNGSTOWN -- A man suspected of torching at least five vacant houses on the North Side was arrested Friday.
Jacob Perrotta, 23, of Cooper Street, was taken into custody by members of the Mahoning Valley Violent Crimes Task Force, said Lt. Kevin Johnson, an arson investigator.
Johnson said that because of the holiday on Monday, Perrotta will remain in jail pending arraignment Tuesday in municipal court on five counts of arson.
Johnson said Perrotta is accused of setting fire to vacant houses at 16 Tacoma Ave., 51 Woodbine Ave., 12 Saranac Ave., 52 New York Ave., and 43 McGuffey Road (right off Wick Avenue).
Johnson said he doesn't believe that Perrotta acted alone, and the investigation continues. The investigator said tips phoned in to the Ohio Blue Ribbon Arson hot line were helpful. The organization offers up to $5,000 reward in arson cases.
Dozens of North Side properties have been set ablaze since last summer. Investigators have said the fires were the work of a serial arsonist.
Animals in burning house
YOUNGSTOWN -- Firefighters found an iguana, snake and pit bull in a burning house at 56 E. Midlothian Boulevard around 5 a.m. Friday. Fire was confined to a bedroom, where spliced wires were found. Candles were also found in every room, including one still burning in the kitchen. No one was home, and a neighbor told firefighters that the occupants left Thursday. Animal Charity was contacted to take the animals. Damage to the house was set at $5,000.
Boy faces several charges
YOUNGSTOWN -- A 14-year-old West Hylda Avenue boy who jumped out of his grandmother's car Thursday morning to avoid being sent to Arizona was caught driving a stolen Cadillac later in the day on West Philadelphia Avenue and arrested. Two other boys in the car were released and the driver was taken to the Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center to face charges of receiving stolen property, possession of criminal tools (screwdriver) and no driver's license. The grandmother, who has custody of the boy, reported him as a runaway after he jumped out of her car on Breaden Street. They had been headed to an airport. The 53-year-old woman told police that she wanted to send him to Arizona because he's been getting into too much trouble in this area. It's not known if he was headed there to be with family or friends.
FARRELL, Pa. -- A Masury man is in Mercer County Jail on $100,000 bond accused of attempted homicide. Southwest Mercer County Regional Police arrested Robert Wood on Friday. Police said they were called to Spearman Avenue and Kishon Street at 5:22 p.m. Thursday for a shooting. According to police, Wood and Steve Campbell Williams, 39, of Farrell, were in a car together and started struggling over Wood's gun. At least four shots were fired and Williams was shot in the left side of the chest. The bullet exited through his back, police said. He was treated at UPMC Horizon, Farrell campus. Police said Wood, whose age and address were not released by police, ran west on Kishon Street and may have taken a bicycle from nearby apartments. He is charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person.
No more loyalty oaths
MERCER Pa. -- Mercer County will comply with a recent order by Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett to stop administering loyalty oaths to candidates for public office and to poll workers. Thomas Rookey, county director of Registration and Elections, told the board of elections Friday that he will only require candidates and poll workers to pledge to support the Pennsylvania Constitution and to uphold election laws. Previously, candidates had to affirm that they were not "subversive" and would not engage in "subversive activities." Poll workers also had to sign an oath affirming they were not subversive. The loyalty oath dated to 1951.
Newton Falls contract
NEWTON FALLS -- The Newton Falls Association of Classified Employees and the Newton Falls Board of Education reached a two-year contract agreement Friday.
The two-year agreement covers bus drivers, cafeteria personnel, secretaries, attendants, mechanics and maintenance personnel. The agreement calls for an increase of 30 cents an hour in each year of the contract; school officials couldn't be reached to say what hourly rates will be.
The district is still negotiating a contract with the Newton Falls Classroom Teachers' Association.