MCFRS News Release

Kensington and Silver Spring Serial Arsonist Arrested

Silver Spring man connected to nearly a dozen fires in two weeks

On Monday, September 15, 2008 Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, Fire and Explosive Investigators arrested and charged Preston Crocker, age 21, of Fayette Road, Kensington for his involvement with several fires in the Kensington and Silver Spring areas.  The most recent incidents occurred between August 26, 2008 and September 9, 2008,

Mr. Crocker is being charged with one (1) count of Arson, 2nd degree – structure; seven (7) counts of Arson, 2nd degree – vehicle; two (2) counts of Arson – trash container; one (1) count of malicious burning, 1st degree – structure.  Additional charges are pending.

Between 11:30 p.m. and 12 midnight on Monday, September 8, 2008 units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service were dispatched for an automatic fire alarm at Woodlin Elementary School, located in the 2100 block of Luzerne Avenue, in the Woodside neighborhood of Silver Spring.

Upon arrival, firefighters encountered several fires involving a dumpster as well as the covered wooden walkway leading from the main school building and a portable classroom structure on the west side of the school. The fires were quickly extinguished. There were no injuries.

Fire and Explosive Investigators were called to the scene. A short time later as Fire and Explosive Investigators approached the scene, they observed a person of interest leaving the area of the fire scene who matched a description to another recent incident being investigated in the nearby Kensington area.  Mr. Crocker was observed in the area and was stopped and interviewed.  

The most recent fires at the Woodlin Elementary School were determined to be intentionally set (arson).  Damage to the walkway and portable classroom is estimated to be $130,000.  Over 400 students using this music classroom for instruction were displaced.  Additionally, evidence of an attempt to burn a vehicle was discovered nearby, just a block from the school, on Rockwood Road.

Several days prior, on September 6, 2008 at around 5 a.m. units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service were dispatched for an auto fire in the 3200 block of Fayette Road, in the Homewood neighborhood of Kensington.

In the early morning of September 4, 2008 around 6 a.m. units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service responded to a dumpster fire at the Oakland Terrace Elementary School, in the 2800 block of Plyers Mill Road, in Kensington. While at the scene evidence of an attempt to burn a vehicle was also observed. Earlier that morning, around 5 a.m. several attempts to burn vehicles were discovered not far away in the 10200 block of Menlo Avenue, off of Capital View Avenue.

In addition, while on the scene of the dumpster fire at the Oakland Terrace Elementary School on September 4, firefighters were made aware of at least two more attempts to burn vehicles in the 2800 block of Emmet Road near the Oakland Terrace school grounds. Upon further examination Montgomery County Fire and Explosive Investigators found two or three other vehicles displaying similar burn or attempt to burn characteristics.

In the previous week Fire and Explosive Investigators believe several other attempts to burn vehicles on Brunswick Avenue, in Forest Glen and a vehicle fire on Finch Street, in Plyers Mill are related. 

Mr. Preston Crocker, of Kensington, Maryland had been hospitalized from September 9, 2008 through September 15, 2008.  Upon his release from the hospital he was arrested on September 15, 2008 and is being processed at the Montgomery County Central Processing Unit, in Rockville.

The investigation is continuing. 

Fire activity summary
9/8 – 2101 Luzerne Avenue, portable classroom
9/8 – 2101 Luzerne Avenue, boardwalk/covered walkway
9/8 – 2101 Luzerne Avenue, trash container
9/8 – 2002 Rockwood Drive, vehicle
9/6 – 3220 Fayette Road, vehicle
9/4 – 2714 Emmet Road, vehicle
9/4 - 2712 Emmet Road, vehicle
9/4 – 2720 Plyers Mill Road, trash container
9/4 - 10216 Menlo Avenue, vehicle
8/26 – 10409 Brunswick Avenue, vehicle
8/26 – 2705 Finch Street, vehicle