Lacasse Park Firestarter Issues Public Apology

The Tecumseh teen who set fire to the playground at Lacasse Park has issued a public letter of apology to the community.

The 13-year-old boy - who can't be named - had been charged with arson and was referred to the Essex County Youth Diversion Program by the court.

He had already participated in a fire department program for children who start fires and will take part in a social skills course as well.


Tecumseh Fire crews battle fire at Lacasse Park playground (Photo by AM800's Steve Bell)

Youth Diversion Executive Director Joanna Conrad says the boy took part in a meeting with Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara and several senior town staff.

Conrad says it's clear to her the boy did not intend for the fire to cause the kind of damage it did.

"He really showed remorse right from the onset, he felt horrible as soon as it happened and he was trying to stop the fire actually by kicking it out himself and he waited for the police and fire to come"

Conrad says the boy recently had a birthday and he came to the table with his gifts.

"I saved all the money I received and I want to give it to the Town of Tecumseh to say I'm really sorry and I want to help pay for what I did.  And that really made an impressionable impact on those present because not every young person has that ability to do that"

Conrad says the boy has written an open letter to the communtiy.

"It's written from a young person's perspective, it's entirely his language and while he may not be able to articulate himself the way an adult might be able to, he's really trying his best to let the community know that I know I made a mistake and it was a poor choice and I hope you can understand that I'm really sorry"

Conrad says the town officials thanked the boy for his offer of what he had received for his birthday, but did not take the money suggesting he put it to another good use.

They also appreciated that the boy took part in such a humbling experience.

The October fire in Lacasse Park caused $300 - 400,000 damage.

Here's the letter:

“I would like to say to everyone reading this that I am writing this letter because
I want to explain to everyone reading how the fire happened and what I have
done to try to help fix what I did. When I started the fire, I brought some paper
and a little bit of gas in a water bottle with my friend to the park because I
thought it was just going to be a small fire and we could have a little fun but
obviously that didn't happen and the fire immediately went out of control and I
tried to stop it but I wasn't able to. I realize that because of what I did I have
affected taxpayers because they now have to pay more, children that are now
unable to play on the park, the mayor since he now has to deal with questions
and people's concerns, the reputation of Tecumseh especially since at the time
there was an out of town team playing baseball right next to the park, and anyone
that was there or nearby when it happened because they saw and crowded around
the fire. What I have done to try to help out is that I have met with the mayor and
others to talk to them about what happened and what I can do to help and one
suggestion they gave was writing this letter which I was happy to accept. I have
also completed the tapp-c program, I will also be applying for youth [town
council] and will be completing the rebound life choices program. I have learned
to always think twice about something before you do it and think about all the
outcomes of what could happen and I have also started helping my family more
and we have made our home more fire safe. I would like to thank everyone who
reads this and can understand how sorry I am.”