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Officials: Man set fire at Schenectady apartment building, then firefighters spotted a gun

Officials: Man set fire at Schenectady apartment building, then firefighters spotted a gun

The fire happened July 11
Officials: Man set fire at Schenectady apartment building, then firefighters spotted a gun
Photographer: Gazette file photo by Peter R. Barber

SCHENECTADY — A city man is accused of setting fire to a downtown apartment building last month in an apparent dispute with his landlord.

Responding firefighters quickly doused the blaze, but in the process, entered the man's apartment and spotted a gun, authorities say.

Tashan L. Cook, 31, now faces charges related to the fire as well as the gun. The gun charge, filed last week, relates to an unrelated order of protection against Cook that prohibited him from possessing a gun, officials said.

The fire happened just after 7 a.m. at the apartment building where Cook resided, 427 Liberty St., according to police allegations filed in court.

Cook is accused of lighting the fire in a stairwell area in an apparent dispute with his landlord, prosecutor Michael DeMatteo said this week.

Police arrested Cook July 23 and charged him with second-degree arson, a felony. Police backed the charge with video evidence, statements from Cook and a witness statement, among other information, according to the police allegations.

Authorities then filed a federal charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited person last Thursday.

According to an affidavit filed in that case, firefighters extinguished the fire and were in the process of checking whether flames has spread into other areas of the building when they spotted the gun, later identified as a .38-caliber revolver with a defaced serial number, inside a clear plastic bag in Cook's apartment, according to the federal affidavit.

Firefighters then notified police investigators, who got a search warrant and recovered the weapon, according to the affidavit.

Investigators then interviewed Cook upon his arrest and Cook allegedly admitted to possessing the gun. He told investigators he found it in a heating duct and stored it in his apartment, according to the affidavit.

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