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What you need to know for 05/23/2017

Top Schenectady police officials nab man wanted in arson

Top Schenectady police officials nab man wanted in arson

A city man charged with setting a fire on Schenectady Street this week was taken into custody by non

A city man charged with setting a fire on Schenectady Street this week was taken into custody by none other than the police chief and public safety commissioner.

Rashawn J. Pratt, 35, of 780 State St., was arrested Thursday and charged with third-degree arson, a felony.

He is accused of setting a fire in a vacant building at 544 Schenectady St. on Tuesday. He started the fire by putting an open flame to materials at the house, according to papers filed in court.

He was arrested at about 10:20 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of State and Hulett streets after being spotted by Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett and Police Chief Brian Kilcullen.

Bennett said Friday that he and Kilcullen were in the area for an unrelated investigation of a body found in a car on Barney Street Thursday morning when they spotted Pratt on State Street.

Police had a description of Pratt wearing distinct clothing and footwear. The man was seen on street surveillance video near the Schenectady Street house when it caught fire.

Bennett spotted Pratt first. The commissioner grabbed Kilcullen and they both went up State Street. Kilcullen then spotted Pratt on the curb.

Pratt was cooperative when confronted, Bennett said. “He didn’t say much of anything,” Bennett said.

Police also had the name of the suspect and knew he had reported his passport stolen a week earlier. Bennett said he was sure it was the right person, but he asked about the passport. Pratt confirmed he had reported it stolen.

The detective division came and took Pratt into custody.

Bennett said the county’s street surveillance cameras were key in developing Pratt as a suspect. The cameras put Pratt at the scene. Officials were also able to trace his path to State Street after the fire, Bennett said.

Pratt is also being investigated in connection with a May 12 fire at a vacant State Street building. Pratt denied setting that fire, Bennett said, but he admitted setting the Schenectady Street fire.

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