The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

December 12, 2012

Suspect charged in city fire

JOHNSTOWN — A Windber man admitted to setting a fire that destroyed three buildings last month in Moxham to get back at his girlfriend’s husband, authorities said.

James Richard McDonald, 46, of the 1300 block of Cambria Avenue, was charged with two counts of arson, 34 counts of reckless endangerment, five counts of criminal mischief and one count of risking a catastrophe.

Johnstown police said McDonald fled the fire scene on Coleman Avenue but not before mumbling a few prayers and leaving behind a Bible.

The six-alarm blaze scrambled firefighters from city and suburban fire companies and left at least 13 people homeless.

In a court document, city police said the fire started in the rear of the vacant 642 Coleman Ave. residence and spread to an apartment complex and an unoccupied home that was being remodeled.

“We began investigating it as a suspicious fire immediately as soon as we were able to gather information,” police Chief Craig Foust said.

People living in the apartment complex escaped the blaze uninjured.

Police said McDonald previously had been involved with a married woman who lived in the apartment building.

Police identified McDonald from a video taken from a nearby home.

Police said McDonald told them he had planned to confront the woman’s husband, but instead set fire to a box, a mattress and a couch in the rear of the vacant house next door.

“I planned to do something bad,” McDonald said, according to police.

The woman told police McDonald had threatened her in the past.

The woman “described an incident during which McDonald had taken her to a remote location in Somerset County and threatened to kill her and leave her in the woods,” a court document said.

The woman told police McDonald has mental-health trouble and is bipolar.

McDonald is being held at the Cambria County Prison on unrelated charges stemming from alleged threats he made on Nov. 24 to an employee at Memorial Medical Center.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • new councilman Judge fills City Council vacancy

    A lifelong Johnstown resident who has never sought election to public office was named Thursday to fill the vacancy on City Council.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cawley Lt. Gov. Cawley pushes jobs plan during Johnstown visit

    Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley got to see firsthand many of the training tools used by Hiram G. Andrews Center students on Thursday and took some time to promote a program called Jobs for All, part of Gov. Tom Corbett’s JOBS1st PA agenda.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • home VIDEO | Volunteers ‘blitz build’ replacement home for Upper Yoder man

    One week ago, Joey Varmecky had almost nothing.
    In October, a flue fire claimed his Swank Street home. That night, Varmecky, a deaf and partially blind man who doesn’t speak, showed up on the doorstep of his friend’s home. His feet were covered only by a pair of stockings.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Toomey & Shuster Bill would help identify unclaimed remains of veterans

    The cremated remains of an estimated 47,000 veterans are stored throughout the United States, sometimes in nothing more than nondescript metal canisters on shelves.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • million Lucky Seward man finds ticket to riches

    People often play the lottery and dream about the things they would do if they won the big one.
    That dream came true for Karl Kadi of Seward, who won $1 million on a $20 Max-A-Million scratch-off lottery ticket.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Farrish, James State police make another drug bust on turnpike

    A Pittsburgh man was jailed Thursday after state police said they found about $120,000 in suspected heroin during a traffic stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sisco, Ryan James & John Patrick Two brothers charged in beating at bar

    Two Johnstown brothers were jailed Wednesday after police said they beat a man so badly he suffered a concussion and may end up blind in one eye.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • path of flood Path of Flood entries due

    Anyone interested in participating in Johnstown Area Heritage Association’s  Path of the Flood Historic Half Marathon and 5K race will need to get in gear before the April 30 registration deadline.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drilling fees should fund education, Democrats say

    Democrats running for governor seem to be competing to convince voters they will dip deepest into the pockets of gas drillers to replace $1 billion that Gov. Tom Corbett has cut from education spending.

    April 17, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/18/2014

    April 17, 2014

Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads