What to Know
- A house fire in Merrick is raising suspicions over whether it was intentionally set amid resistance to a sex offender's planned move there
- The community had been organizing to prevent Daniel Reilly, a former New York City teacher, from moving there
- It's unclear if he will try to rebuild there
A fire set at a Long Island home that was being built by a convicted sex offender has raised suspicions that it may have been purposely set.
"It's hard to look at this and not think it wasn't done intentionally," said neighbor Richard Watkins.
The Nassau fire marshal is investigating whether the early-morning blaze at the house in Merrick was set. A fire marshal supervisor says flyers were posted around the home as it was being built, warning the community that a convicted sex offender was planning to move in there.
"Everyone was very on edge, scared," said neighbor Lindsay Granat. "People in the community were organizing to prevent him from moving here."
"I have two teenaged daughters and no one wants to hear you will have a predator living on the street," said Carrie Burlock.
The sex offender, Daniel Reilly, is a former New York City teacher convicted almost four years ago of having sex with a 14-year-old student. State records indicate he served six months in jail and is now on probation.
No one answered at Reilly's North Merrick home Tuesday.
It remains unclear if he will try to rebuild in Merrick. While many neighbors hope he doesn't, several expressed outrage that someone might see setting a dangerous fire as the answer to the problem.
"It's disgusting!" said Granat. "I mean, my house started lighting on fire, too."
"It says there are people who live here with intolerance and insensitivity to do this, to solve a problem," said Watkins.