A man has been arrested in connection with a series of arson fires that have terrorized an East Germantown block over the last several weeks, police said Thursday night.
Leonard Monroe, 24, of Clearfield Street near 21st in Swampoodle, has been charged with two counts each of arson, aggravated assault, causing catastrophe, stalking, criminal mischief and related offenses for two fires he allegedly set on Coulter Street near Lena. In the first, police say Monroe lit a Molotov cocktail and placed it between the front and storm doors of a rowhouse on the block overnight, causing minor damage to both doors. Less than a month later, authorities said, Monroe struck again at the same house, placing two lit incendiary devices by the front door in the wee hours of the morning Dec. 1. A resident of the house was able to extinguish that fire, police said.
Police said a third arson at the same location early Sunday morning that left a family's Christmas tree and gifts damaged, and forced several people and a 4-month-old baby to escape through an upstairs window is suspected to have been set by Monroe as well, but he has not been charged in that fire. That incident remains under investigation.
Residents targeted in the arson fires had speculated at the time of the fires that they may have been motivated by drama involving women whose children share a father.
Court records show Monroe was arraigned Thursday and held on $1 million bail -- $500,000 for each fire. He is jailed at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility and scheduled to appear in court again Jan. 16.