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At about 2:40 pm on Thursday, February 16, Newtown police arrested the proprietor of a package store, who on the night of January 21 allegedly falsely reported to police that an armed robbery had occurred at Rooster Wines & Liquors at 113 South Main Street.
The incident included a fire being set inside the package store and anti-Semitic graffiti being sprayed on the premises, according to police.
Police said they arrested Scott Young, 39, of Southington on a Danbury Superior Court warrant after he was discharged as a patient from MidState Medical Center in Meriden. Mr Young’s hospital stay was unrelated to the January 21 incident, police said.
Police arrested Young on charges of first-degree arson, first-degree criminal mischief, second-degree providing a false statement, interfering with police, and three counts of first-degree reckless endangerment.
Police Chief James Viadero has said that during his more than 30-year law enforcement career, he has never seen an armed robbery occur coupled with a hate crime.
According to a police statement issued immediately after the incident occurred, at about 8:28 pm on January 21, police responded to the package store after receiving a report that a robbery had just occurred there. On arriving, police spotted a fire burning inside the rear of the building. They entered the store and assisted volunteer firefighters in putting out the blaze with fire extinguishers.
Mr Young then told police that two males had entered the premises, with one of those men requesting help in locating a product. One of the men, who was brandishing a firearm, then walked Mr Young to the sales counter and stole a large amount of cash from several nights’ receipts, according to the initial police report on the incident.
After stealing the money, the suspects fled to the rear of the store, starting a fire inside before exiting through a rear door, Mr Young had told police.
Mr Young then fled the fire through a front window, smashing it to exit the building, police have said.
On checking the premises and the surrounding area for a suspect, with the assistance of a state police tracking dog, police officers observed an anti-Semitic racial slur and two swastikas painted on the rear door of the establishment, according to the initial police report.
Through their investigation, police determined that the report of two men robbing Young, starting a fire, and then spraying the graffiti is fictitious. Police allege that Young started the fire and sprayed the graffiti.
The reckless endangerment charge stems from the presence of three people in an apartment on the second story of 113 South Main Street when the incident occurred, police said.
Newtown police, state police from Troops A and L, state police specialists in fire/explosion investigations, and the Newtown fire marshal’s office participated in the investigation.
Chief Viadero said the many investigators thoroughly and quickly concluded their probe into to “a disturbing crime.”
“The fact that Mr Young used racial epithets and symbolism to cover up a crime was extremely disturbing to not only the community, but all the agencies involved. Such an incident unnerves the community and we are thankful we could bring the incident to a successful resolution and put everyone’s concerns at ease,” he said.
Police did not provide a motive for Mr Young’s actions. Police said, however, that crimes have been staged in other cases in which financial troubles or personal problems have been factors.
Young was being held on $100,000 bail, police said. If bail is not posted, he would be arraigned in Danbury Superior Court on February 17.
Detective Jason Frank is listed as heading the Newtown police probe into the incident.