WOODBRIDGE – Mayor John E. McCormac today announced that an 18 year-old adult and a 17 year-old juvenile from Avenel have been arrested by the Woodbridge Police Department and charged with intentionally setting fire to playground equipment at the 5th District Park and Playground located in the Avenel section of Woodbridge Township. The April 13 fire caused more than $25,000 in damage to playground equipment and park facilities.
“I am gratified that the Woodbridge Police Department was able to make arrests within hours of the fire. These arrests send a strong message to anyone who thinks that setting a fire and destroying thousands of dollars of playground equipment is simply vandalism. We will seek the stiffest penalties possible, including restitution and community service,” said McCormac. “I would like to thank neighborhood residents – and the media – for their assistance and cooperation in helping the Woodbridge Police Department conduct a thorough and effective investigation.”
According to Police Chief William Trenery, the 18 year-old adult is identified as Amanda Gacina, Burnet Street, Avenel; the 17 year-old male juvenile is also an Avenel resident. Both defendants have been charged with arson and criminal mischief. The defendants were arrested on April 14.
Detective Brian Murphy and uniformed police officers conducted an extensive investigation, speaking with neighbors and residents of the Avenel neighborhood. Information developed by the investigation led detectives to the suspects, who were allegedly observed carrying large stacks of newspaper into the park in the early evening of April 13. Initial bail was set at $500 for Gacina pending arraignment in Middlesex County Superior Court. The 17 year-old juvenile was released to the custody of parents pending a hearing in Middlesex County Superior Court, Juvenile Division, in New Brunswick.
The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Woodbridge Police Department confidential “TipLine” at: 732-855-TIPS (8477).