Created on Monday, 03 February 2014 Written by JOHN SEEWER, Associated Press
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A judge set bond at $5 million on Monday for an apartment building owner accused of setting a blaze that killed two Ohio firefighters.
Ray Abou-Arab, who was handcuffed and wearing a sleeveless smock, was arraigned in Toledo Municipal Court on aggravated murder and arson charges. Abou-Arab, 61, was arrested Friday on allegations that he started the fire that killed a veteran firefighter and a rookie who got trapped inside.
A public defender representing the suspect did not comment on the charges or ask for a lower bond. Messages seeking comment have been left at Abou-Arab's home.
About 60 firefighters and supporters, wearing red or black ribbons across their badges, marched as a group to the courthouse and packed the courtroom for Abou-Arab's first appearance since his arrest. Several stared at the suspect while he stood silently during the brief hearing.
Authorities said in court documents that Abou-Arab used a flammable liquid to start the fire that killed firefighters Stephen Machcinski and James Dickman on Jan. 26. He was in a garage at the site of the fire just before an apartment resident said she saw the blaze break out, the documents said.
Radio calls from the scene of the fire indicated that the pair faced rapidly deteriorating conditions once inside the six-unit apartment building near downtown. Firefighters found them inside, carried them out and tried unsuccessfully to save them.
Autopsies showed that Machcinski and Dickman died from burns and carbon monoxide. No one else was seriously injured in the blaze.