First Seattle, now Toledo? via Owner of apartment building charged in deaths of 2 Toledo firefighters – Toledo Blade.
The owner of a North Toledo apartment building where two firefighters died Sunday in a fire was charged today with murder and arson.
Ray Abou-Arab, 61, who owns 528 Magnolia St., was charged in Toledo Municipal Court today with two counts of aggravated murder and two counts of aggravated arson in relation to the fire at that apartment building. Toledo firefighters Stephen Machcinski, 42, and James Dickman, 31, died while fighting a fire at the building.
Mr. Abou-Arab was arrested today at 2:20 p.m. and at 3:18 p.m. was booked into the Lucas County jail. According to jail records, the suspect was arrested by Toledo police at the Safety Building.
Mr. Abou-Arab, of 1311 Sierra Dr., Oregon, is accused in court documents of setting the fire. The documents state Mr. Abou-Arab entered the building’s garage and stayed there for more than a minute. He then entered a store front at the same location. Immediately after he left the garage, an occupant of the apartment adjacent to the garage noticed the wall was on fire.
The court documents state that the “origin and cause investigation” determined Mr. Abou-Arab used an ignitable liquid inside the garage to cause the fire
Investigating agencies have included Toledo fire investigators, Toledo police, the FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the State Fire Marshal, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Toledo Police Detective Deb Hahn also wrote, in the criminal complaint filed Friday, that a witness saw Abou-Arab “enter the garage located at 528 Magnolia where he remained for over a minute….Immediately after Abou-Arab exited the garage structure, the occupant of the rear apartment adjacent to the garage at 528 Magnolia noticed the wall of the structure was on fire.”
According to Ohio code Abou-Arab could face up to life in prison with or without the possibility of parole if convicted on a single count of aggravated murder.
The punishment, however, would depend on if the murder charges are prosecuted with the addition of one or more specifications considered aggravating circumstances.
In addition to the pair aggravated murder charges filed, both felonies, Abou-Arab also faces two counts of aggravated arson.
The aggravated arson charges do include the specification that there was “substantial risk of serious physical harm to another person other than the suspect.”
This is not Abou-Arab’s first time facing legal action in the Toledo area. According to court records, he has also been charged with the illegal use of food stamps, telecommunications fraud and the unauthorized use of property computer equipment.
No word on where Abou-Arab is from or his immigration status.
Moments after Judge Stacy Cook, of Lucas County Common Pleas Court, declared a mistrial in the case of Ray Abou-Arab, 64, the Oregon man entered Alford pleas — not admitting guilt — to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of aggravated arson.
Judge Cook found him guilty and sentenced him to an agreed-upon 20 years in prison for using gasoline to ignite a North Toledo apartment building he owned. The explosive fire on Jan. 26, 2014 took the lives of fire Pvts. Stephen Machcinski, 42, and James Dickman, 31.
Rick Machcinski, who lost his brother that day, said he could not understand how Abou-Arab left his home country of Lebanon to make a better life, and then did this.