Toronto man faces criminal charges in New Jersey after ‘arson’

‘I received a phone call telling me that police had found a bleach container with something in it that looked like flares or Molotov cocktails,’ says the police chief

Police in New Jersey have arrested a Toronto man for “damage to property” and “stalking”, and for threatening officers with a shotgun during a traffic stop.

The damage to property charges are related to incidents on 6 September and 22 August, and last week. In August, a 16-year-old girl reported seeing a man throw Molotov cocktails at cars and set off “dozens of noise bombs” at a New Jersey mobile home park.

More than $140,000 in damage was caused, Newark police announced last week. In addition to more than $45,000 in auto damage, police say, damage to two storerooms at a laundromat and a vacant mobile home reportedly cost about $75,000.

The municipal prosecutor has charged Kevin Edward Casio, 35, with seven counts each of “terroristic mischief and stalking”, all third-degree crimes. Three counts each of “removable weapon” and “criminal mischief” are on the slate, though it’s unclear if that is the same shotgun that was in the police vehicle. He also faces charges of being a fugitive from justice and forgery.

“I received a phone call telling me that police had found a bleach container with something in it that looked like flares or Molotov cocktails,” police chief Anthony Ambrose said in a statement.

“All three fires in the first two nights were caused by Molotov cocktails,” he added. “When I arrived, the suspect – later identified as Casio – tried to leave the scene on foot but was stopped by police. A shotgun was found within arm’s reach of the suspect and inside the suspect’s pocket.”

Police say a resident of the New Jersey mobile home park called 911 after seeing a car apparently being targeted by Molotov cocktails. Officers arrested Casio and took him to the local police station, where he was not cooperative, according to Ambrose.

Officers found “thousands of harassing text messages on Casio’s cell phone”, Ambrose said. They also say they found a pump-action shotgun in the car, alongside various other potentially dangerous objects, “including a machete, glass pipes, cutlery, and dirty dish clothes, which resembled black thumbprints”.

The chief noted that this month is LGBT Pride Month, and referred to Casio as “a highly violent individual” who has been deported from Canada.

In court on Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Sheryl Kenton allowed the charges to stand against Casio. She ordered him held on $5m bail.

Newark police say Casio lives in Toronto but most recently was in Georgia. The top prosecutor in that state is Andrew Goodyear, who was running for governor until he was arrested on 22 August.

Casio’s lawyer, Steve Diaz, has described his client as “a scruffy guy,” “a tramp”, and “some very poor decisions”. Diaz said the offenses against the mobile home and storerooms were basically “for show”, and were all done because Casio was coming up on being in the country illegally. Diaz added: “When he left, no harm was done.”

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