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Two Niagara Falls men plead guilty for roles in fatal arson in July 2020

Crews battling massive fire at multiple homes in Niagara Falls
Posted at 5:32 PM, Sep 13, 2021

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Niagara County District Attorney's Office announced two Niagara Falls men have pleaded guilty for their roles in a fatal arson in July 2020.

Damion Ellis and Zachary Preisch entered guilty pleas in Niagara County Court Monday for their roles in the fatal arson at 1815 Niagara Street in Niagara Falls on July 6, 2020, according to the district attorney's office.

A resident of the apartment building, 52-year-old Ward Schaal, was killed in the fire.

According to the district attorney's office, the fire started due to Ellis and Preisch setting off fireworks in another apartment.

Ellis pleaded guilty to second degree manslaughter and Preisch pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide. Preisch also pleaded guilty to two counts of second degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon for unrelated incidents in Niagara Falls.

They are both scheduled to return to court for sentencing November 16.

“This was a senseless tragedy” said Niagara County District Attorney Brian Seaman. “The defendants’ reckless conduct led to the loss of a life for which these defendants will now be held accountable.”