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Arson suspects waive hearings in Lansford

Published June 29. 2011 05:02PM

Three Panther Valley men charged with starting a fire in an unoccupied building in Lansford on June 4 have waived their magistrate hearings.

The defendants are:

• Jeremy Scott Schmick, 27, West Hazard Street, Summit Hill - Arson, criminal conspiracy, two counts of criminal trespass, possession of a small amount of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and criminal mischief.

• Michael Ryan Zuber, 25, of East Ridge Street, Lansford - Two counts of arson, criminal conspiracy, two counts of criminal trespass, and criminal mischief.

• Steven Allen Walck Jr., 26, North Walnut Street, Lansford - Arson, two counts of criminal trespass, criminal conspiracy, and criminal mischief.

Hearings for the trio had been scheduled before District Judge Casimir T. Kosciolek of Lansford, but opted to have the proceedings waived for trial in Carbon County Court.

The three were arrested by officers Joshua Tom and Jason Helmer of the Lansford Police Department following a fire which occurred shortly after midnight on Saturday, June 4, at the training grounds of the Lansford Fire Department on East Dock Street.

Tom and Helmer discovered the fire while on routine patrol, according to the affidavit. The building was being used for storage by the fire department.

Officer Tom wrote in the affidavit that while conducting a search of the surrounding area, at about 1:27 a.m. while traveling west on Dock Street, he and Helmer observed Schick and Walck who were walking. Tom wrote, "Both appeared to be out of breath, sweating, nervous, and appeared to have been running through the woods as indicated by their dirty clothing and wet boots."

A pat down revealed they also possessed marijuana, the affidavit says.

Tom says in the affidavit that both Schmick and Walck admitted to being inside the building to drink beer and smoke marijuana along with Zuber.

The affidavit says, "They stated that they agreed to making a fire in an attempt to stay warm. Upon deciding to leave the building, Schmick and Walck stated that they along with Zuber talked and joked about lighting the building on fire."

The affidavit alleges that Zuber kicked over a barrel containing the fire and "all watched the fire quickly spread." After hearing the fire alarm, all ran into the woods with Zuber fleeing in a different direction, it is alleged.

Police said Zuber was later observed walking down West Ridge Street and taken into custody.

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