BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A woman has been arrested in connection with an arson that occurred at a community center site on Kilhoffer Street in Buffalo in January 2020.
The fire occurred at 79 Kilhoffer Street on January 28, 2020 and was previously determined to be an arson by the Buffalo Fire Marshal's Office.
According to court documents, Jade Smart has been arrested and is facing charges in connection with the arson. It is alleged Smart planned the arson at least two weeks prior.
79 Kilhoffer Street was a vacant structure under renovation by Habitat for Humanity, Buffalo Peacemakers and the Stop the Violence Coalition.
"There was going to be a skill park behind the house. We were going to maintain that. It was going to house a couple not for profit organizations as well. We were going to give resources back to this community. Now we have to start over," said Murray Holman, the Executive Director of the Stop the Violence Coalition in an interview with WKBW following the fire. During the interview Holman also said the new community center would be bigger and better than the original home destroyed by the fire.
According to court documents, the Buffalo Fire Marshal's Office determined the fire to be an arson after it recovered a partially burned iced tea bottle with remnants of gasoline and a red gas can at the scene. Video footage also showed an unidentified person at the rear of the house, a flash coming from or near the rear of the house and an unidentified car pulling up in front of the home and dropping off at least one person just before the start of the fire.
Smart was identified as a person of interest early on and was interviewed by investigators on February 4, 2020. According to the court documents in that interview Smart admitted to going to a store and buying the iced tea and gas, she said she left both items on top of a garbage tote and walked away.
Court documents indicate on March 11, 2020 the ATF interviewed another person of interest who was with Smart when purchasing the iced tea and gas.
That person of interest told investigators Smart purchased the items and returned to Kilhoffer where the person of interest witnessed Smart pour gasoline into the iced tea bottle, use a lighter to light up the bottle and then tossed it through an opening in the rear of the house causing the fire.
According to court documents, DNA testing of the gas can determined it contained a mixture of DNA from one make and one female and further indicated the results are at least 6.03 million times more likely if they originated from Smart and one unknown individual rather than two unknown individuals.