PORTLAND, Ore. — Two 18-year-old suspects were arraigned on a first-degree arson charge in connection with a series of suspected arsons around Mount Tabor Park over the preceding weeks, the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office reported Monday.
The two suspects, Malik Hares and Samuel Perkins, were arrested Saturday night. A third person was arrested Saturday but was not charged. Elisabeth Shepard, a spokesperson with the district attorney's office, told KGW "there was insufficient evidence to charge him with a crime at this time."
On Sept. 2, fire officials said they learned of more than 15 fires that were set in Southeast Portland's Mount Tabor Park or surrounding areas. Most of them were discovered along trails and were apparently set at night.
The district attorney's office said in a news release that the charge for Hares and Perkins "stems from several separate incidents of arson between July 15 and September 9." Hares and Perkins were captured on video in the area of Mount Tabor Park around the time one of the fires was started. Both "admitted to involvement in starting the fires," the district attorney's office said.
Hares told police he returned to the areas where he and Perkins started fires to watch firefighters put them out and that he spoke with firefighters and an investigator.
The district attorney's office said this is an ongoing investigation that could lead to more charges.
Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Sara Boone thanked the community for information that helped lead to the arrests.
"Their proactive efforts, tips, and leads played a significant role in keeping each other safe while protecting a valuable and natural forested park setting," Boone said in a statement.
Boone also credited the Portland Fire Investigations Unit, Portland Parks and Recreation, Portland Police, the Bureau of Emergency Communications, and the district attorney's office.
"A tremendous amount of time and resources were dedicated to this endeavor with a shared commitment and urgency to identify and arrest these suspects," she said.