Formal charges are still under review in connection with the arrest May 2 of a Hope man accused of committing three major arson fires, as well as a number of local break-ins.
Formal charges are still under review in connection with the arrest May 2 of a Hope man accused of committing three major arson fires, as well as a number of local break-ins. Charles Hawthorne, 18, was arrested by Hope Police Department investigators on three separate counts of arson and five counts of commercial burglary, one count of residential burglary, and one count of criminal mischief. The arson cases involve fires that were allegedly set by Hawthorne at Northside Community Park Community Center on Feb. 12, which heavily damaged the front rooms and roof structure of the building. A $1,000 reward offered by the City of Hope for information leading to an arrest in that case remains open, according to HPD Assistant Chief Kim Tomlin. “The reward has not been awarded at this time; and, there may not be anyone to award it to,” Tomlin said. Hawthorne has also been accused in the March 5 fire which destroyed the former Fink and Co. building in downtown Hope. The building had been used for a number of years by Fink and Co. as its manufacturing facility for jigsaw puzzles, which it sold worldwide. The structure had originally been constructed in the 1940s to house the Shanhouse Co. clothing manufacturing business, but it had been vacant for several years after Fink and Co. discontinued operations, and the building remained in an estate. Hawthorne is also accused of the December, 2012, arson fire which destroyed much of the remaining structure of the historic Bruner-Ivory Handle Mill on North Hazel Street. The factory was also the scene of a May, 2007, arson fire which has never produced any criminal charges, according to Hope police. Tomlin said the original fire and the accusation against Hawthorne do not appear to be related. “There is no evidence that relates this incident back to the other fire,” she said. Some of the oldest parts of the historic business were destroyed in the 2012 fire, according to Hope Fire Chief Dale Glanton. Tomlin said all three of the arson cases remain under investigation, pending a determination of charges by Eighth Judicial District-North Prosecuting Attorney Christi McQueen, who was not available for comment Tuesday. Hawthorne is also charged in connection with commercial burglaries in a Jan. 29 break-in at the Northside Park Community Center, as well as in three instances of commercial burglary and theft of property at Garland Learning Center in February, a February residential burglary, a commercial burglary and theft of property at the Ladycat Field concession stand in April, as well as a first degree criminal mischief allegation from a second break-in at the Ladycat Field concession stand later in April.