Police on Long Island say a former volunteer firefighter has been arrested in connection with a fire that killed a mother and her three children.
Police say 19-year-old Caleb Lacey, of Lawrence, was charged with first degree arson and four counts of second-degree murder.
Police say Lacey, who was arrested on Friday, was a volunteer member of the Lawrence/Cedarhurst Fire Department.
"The arson experts classify this as a vanity or hero type fire the person setting the fire wants to be a hero in saving lives or putting out the fire.He responded to the fire and its within 100 yards of his house so his neighbors would see him his family would see him fighting this fire," Det. Lt. John Azzata said Sunday.
Lacey allegedly used gasoline to ignite a blaze in the stairwell of 234 Lawrence Avenue in North Lawrence at 530am on Feb. 19.
Forty-six-year-old Morena Vanegas burned to death along with her 19-year-old son Saul and 9-Year-old twin daughters Andrea and Susanna.
The father and two other sons escaped through a rear window along with a family of four from the other apartment.
"Stay in jail forever. We are never going to see my family again, he should stay there," said America Chavez, sister of the victim.
Outside First District Court in Hempstead, family members wept for their lost loved ones.
Still unable to understand how the boy who loved across the street could become such a monster, Yolanda Lopez said, "I can't believe he did it because he's a friend of the family, he use to play with the kids."
The Long Island newspaper Newsday reported that at the arraignment, a prosecutor said Lacey made a videotaped statement in which he admitted setting the fire and said he knew people were inside the building at the time.
No one answered the phone Saturday at Lacey's church.
Lacey was charged with arson and four counts of second-degree murder. If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in prison. He became a volunteer firefighter in June 2008.