The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local 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
Local News
  • WilliamsA ‘I thought I was going to die’

    Hornerstown resident Robert “Bobby” Williams said he endured two hours of surgery, suffered a heart attack and fears he may never again be able to fully use his right arm.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • JFD traing Firefighters practice river rescues

    Johnstown Fire Department members lift a “victim” out of the rescue basket during training Wednesday along the Stonycreek River flood-control wall

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    Here are the names of the 10 entrants that were chosen today-April 22, 2014.  If you see your name, call the Circulation Department at 814-532-5000 (#1) or 1-866-307-0905 to verify your information.

    April 22, 2014

  • sewer meeting map Sewer work will tie up traffic

    Brace yourselves.
    This summer’s sewer main replacement project will delay traffic with detours, closed streets and lane restrictions through one of Johnstown’s notoriously snarled neighborhoods.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • USS Somerset USS Somerset arrives at San Diego homeport

    The USS Somerset is home.
    The amphibious transport dock ship named in honor of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 arrived at its new homeport of Naval Base San Diego on Monday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jablonski, Stephen Charges filed in courthouse bomb threat

    A Johnstown man was charged by Ebensburg Borough police Wednesday with threatening to blow up the Cambria County Courthouse, a call he admitted to Ebensburg police he made Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vizza, Peter Vizza voted deputy mayor

    The top vote-getter in last year’s Johnstown City Council election is now also the city’s deputy mayor.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Conemaugh Township rezoning opens business possibilities

    A portion of South Main Street in Davidsville will be rezoned to give greater allowances to the businesses along the road.

    April 23, 2014

  • Sculptor’s work to be raffled off

    The work of a local sculptor will be raffled off during the Art in Bloom show.

    April 23, 2014

  • Katie and Gary Lamer Birthday remembrance bash provides aid to region

    It’s been four years since Johnstown resident Gary Lamer died of complications from pneumonia, but his memory lives on through an annual party that gives back in a big way.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads