A 17-year-old male junior secondary school student has been arrested on allegations of committing four counts of arson, confessing to the Judiciary Police (PJ), that he did it to relieve stress.
The four separate incidents took place on March 9, 11, 14 and May 16. Following the final incident in the early morning of May 16, the suspect was arrested that afternoon at his residence within the building, where he lives with his father.
The suspect told police that he felt stressed and unhappy as a result of his parents’ divorce and the pressures of academic study. He began burning objects in the staircase as a means to reduce his anxiety: he said that the sight of fire relieved his stress.
On each occasion, the Fire Services Bureau alerted the PJ to the suspicious circumstances of the fires that took place in the staircase of a residential building on Avenida da Longevidade.
The fires broke out on three different floors: the sixth, eighth and tenth. The police did not disclose whether these fires burned simultaneously on multiple floors or not.
Damage was caused to a signal light, a fluorescent light, two trash bins, three notices and some miscellaneous objects. Smoke from the fire has also stained the walls of the staircase. Some fiber-optic cables for internet services installed by telecommunications workers were also burned.
Prior to these four incidents, there was another fire on March 5, according to the report PJ received from the management committee of the building. On that occasion the police were not notified because, according to the report, no damage was caused.
After viewing the surveillance camera footage, the PJ’s attention was drawn to a teenager living on the seventh floor of the building.
The PJ has pressed charges against the teenager, referring him to the Public Prosecutions Office. The Education and Youth Development Bureau has also been notified.
According to the PJ, the teenager does not smoke: he possessed a lighter when he is alleged to have committed the crime, but no tobacco products.
In February this year, the PJ and the education bureau held joint training sessions for nine student counseling organizations to teach them to manage emergencies on campus. The training covered matters such as interventions in the cases of individuals with emotional difficulties.