Media, PA- District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer today announced that Brian Keith Showell, 38, of Chester, has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and aggravated arson in connection with a fire at a residence located on Vauclain Street in Chester. At the time of the fire, the residents – including children aged 16, 12, 5 and four months – were asleep in the home.
“The defendant in this case used an accelerant to start fires at the front and back doors of a residence containing sleeping children – some of whom were the defendant’s own children. It would be hard to conjure a more despicable and cowardly act. The damage done by this defendant extends beyond the damage to the residence – it will, unfortunately, remain with these children forever. We must make sure that this family receives the help that it will need to recover from this heinous crime,” said Stollsteimer.
Video surveillance from May 13, 2021 shows a male starting a fire at the back door of the residence. The male is seen spraying an unknown liquid on the fire. The adult victim was interviewed, and she was able to identify the male as the defendant. The victim stated that she and her children were asleep in the residence at the time the fire was started, and she was awakened by the smoke alarm and saw smoke throughout the residence.
The case was investigated by Chester City Police Detectives Brian Pot and Rhaheem Blanden. In addition, Detectives Michael Jay and Thomas Scarpato from the Criminal Investigation Division, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Shaun Maher and the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal assisted in the investigation. The cause of the fire was determined to be incendiary, started by an open flame such as a match or lighter applied to combustible material together with an accelerant.
“I want to thank Detectives Pot and Blanden of the Chester City Police Department, Detectives Jay and Scarpato of CID, Trooper Maher, the Pennsylvania Fire Marshal, and Deputy District Attorney Matthew Krouse for their work on this case. Arson endangers not just one residence or one family – it risks a catastrophe for an entire neighborhood. It is incredibly fortunate that the house had a working smoke detector – and should serve as a reminder to all to make sure that their homes have working smoke detectors,” said Stollsteimer.
Showell was committed to George W. Hill Correctional Facility where he is being held on bail set at 10% of $250,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 7, 2021 in front of the Honorable Wilden Horace Davis.
The District Attorney and the Criminal Investigations Division remind anyone in Delaware County who observes suspicious activity to call 911 immediately and provide the most specific and accurate details possible to assist law enforcement agencies investigating the call for service.
CRIMINAL CHARGES, AND ANY DISCUSSION THEREOF, ARE ALLEGATIONS AND ALL DEFENDANTS ARE PRESUMED INNOCENT UNLESS AND UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.
Contact: Margie McAboy, Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, 610-579-0429.