Suspect in arson case caught

Published 4:27 pm Thursday, September 6, 2007

A suspect formed in the investigation of the suspected arson of Gene’s Tire Center Saturday night was arrested shortly after the fire started.

Two witnesses described a vehicle leaving the scene of the service center at the time of the fire, which took place just after midnight Saturday night.

One of the witnesses was an employee of the business, Picayune Police Deputy Chief David Ervin said.

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Through that information investigators with the department were able to identify and locate the suspect who was brought in for questioning. The suspect, Gregory Fried, 29, of 2606 Hickman Ave., was later charged with arson and commercial burglary as a result of the investigation and is currently in custody at the police department, Ervin said.

When officers located Fried he had tools suspected to be the property of the business in the rear of his truck. Ervin said Fried was a former employee with Gene’s Tire.

Fried was caught at 2:31 a.m., within hours of the fire taking place. Emergency responders received the call at 12:09 a.m. Ervin said.

Tuesday police investigators examined the service center and discovered that more tools were missing from the shop area since Fried’s arrest. Investigations into both incidents are still ongoing, Ervin said.

Picayune Fire Marshall Pat Weaver said he has been unable to determine an exact cause of the fire due to the high amount of flammable materials stored in the shop and the use of a fuel buster by the fire fighters as they put the fire out.

Due to the materials kept in the building the fire got extremely hot, and Weaver commends the fire fighters for their ability to put the fire out so quickly.

“Tires are a tremendous fire load,” Weaver said. “Once they get going they’re hard to put out.”

Weaver said the fire is still under investigation.