Meadville Tribune

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March 19, 2014

Police say gap between confession and arrest was to build case against accused arsonist Irwin

MEADVILLE — Though he allegedly confessed to starting a fire at Northgate Apartments fewer than 48 hours after the incident, Brandon Irwin wasn’t arrested until several days later by police because authorities needed time to build their case.

Irwin, 20, is charged by West Mead Township Police Department with two counts of arson and one count of criminal mischief for the March 11 fire that destroyed a 10-unit, three-story apartment building, displaced 12 people and caused $1 million in damages. Irwin was taken into custody Monday morning — six days after the fire and five days after allegedly confessing to setting the fire due to being “bored” and “stressed” over certain aspects that were transpiring in his life, according to police.

“There’s a motive behind what he did and it will come out as his case plays out in court,” Sgt. Michael Broderick said Tuesday. Broderick declined to say what Irwin’s motive for the alleged crime is. “It’s a different motive than excitement (from setting a fire).”

Irwin was taken into custody Monday at the Quality Inn of Meadville where he and other Northgate residents displaced by the fire have been staying with the assistance of the American Red Cross.

“We knew where he was,” Broderick said. “He was cooperative with us and he didn’t pose a flight risk.”

Though Irwin allegedly confessed to the crime following two police interviews in wake of the fire, police continued to gather evidence, Broderick said.

“We wanted to have evidence on our case locked in before we made an arrest,” Broderick said.

Irwin remains held in the Crawford County jail in Saegertown in lieu of $150,000 bond. He faces a preliminary hearing on the charges March 28 before Magisterial District Judge William Chisholm.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at

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