MPD Charges Two Juveniles in Connection to Western Gardens Fire

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Meridian, Miss. Two juveniles are being charged in connection with a major fire at a Meridian housing complex.

The fire destroyed at least eight units at Western Gardens Apartments and displaced nearly 30 people. Investigators say it appears the suspects threw Molotov cocktails at the building early Friday afternoon.

"A bottle with a wick in it," fire marshal Jason Collier says. "But at this point, we're going to process it through the crime lab and make sure of what we have. You know, appearances can be deceiving and we don't assume anything until proven."

Collier also says witnesses provided investigators with information that will help them with this case. He says the fire started on one end of the building, but quickly spread through the attic to the other units in the building. No one was injured, but Detective Dareall Thompson says things could have ended very differently.

"So, you have about 30 people that lost their personal properties," Thompson explains. "Which that can be replaced, but if somebody was in there, lives could have been lost also. So this is a serious crime."

"Anytime bad intentions mix with fire, it's bad," Collier points out. "Fire is dangerous as it when there's no bad intent."

Authorities spent the afternoon questioning the two juveniles. Thompson says for now, the suspects are being charged as juveniles. He says once the case goes to youth court, the judge could then decide if the suspects need to be charged as adults. In the meantime, the investigation is far from over.

"It's still an ongoing investigation," Thompson stresses.

When asked if there are additional suspects in this case, Thompson simply said the case is still under investigation.