3 Arrested in Staten Island Convent Fire That Hurt Nun

A nun had to jump from a second-floor window to escape the flames

Three 19-year-old men were arrested in connection with an arson at a Staten Island convent that injured a nun who leaped from a second-floor window to escape the flames over the weekend, police say.

Vincent Calder was arrested Thursday on charges that include arson, burglary and reckless endangerment. The other suspects, Chris Sasso and Diego Tuso, face burglary and criminal trespass among other charges. The three suspects, all from Staten Island, pleaded not guilty during an arraignment Friday. 

Authorities said Calder used tapers, which are normally for lighting religious candles, to ignite two fires on the first and third floors of the convent. Authorities said the suspects stole a chalice, religious vestments and other items.

The district attorney initially said Calder could face hate crime charges for the arson, but said there was not sufficient evidence that the convent -- on the grounds of St. Joseph Hill Academy, a 14-acre Catholic school -- was targeted because of religion.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said three youths had been smoking marijuana before the alleged crime.

"They were using drugs and they acted out and this is what they did," Kelly said. 

Sister Regina -- the nun who jumped out the window to escape the blaze, suffering a broken back -- has taken steps on two consecutive days this week, an encouraging sign for her recovery.  

-Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report

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