Nathanial J. Thomas, 17, and a 16-year-old boy were charged with first-degree arson late Wednesday, Hall County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kiley Sargent said Thursday. The juvenile’s name is not being released because of his age.
The arrests came after a joint investigation between the Hall County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said Thomas lives with his mother next door to victim Terry English in the 4100 block of Woodcutter Lane.
Sargent said English’s former position as a law enforcement officer did not appear to be a motive in the crime. He said there were no prior reports of problems between the neighbors.
"From what I understand, it was just a delinquent act," Sargent said. "They really made a bad decision that could have caused someone to get killed."
Authorities said English was watching television about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday when he heard something hit the front of his house.
When he walked outside, he discovered the fire and called the fire department. He was able to extinguish the fire before firefighters arrived. It caused about $2,000 in damage, officials said.
Authorities said the fire was apparently caused by a Molotov cocktail.
Molotov cocktails usually are bottles filled with gasoline or some other flammable liquid, either wrapped with a fuel-soaked rag or plugged with a wick before being lit and hurled like a grenade. Fire officials are uncertain what flammable liquid was in the container thrown at the house. Samples were taken for testing.
Sargent said sheriff’s investigators questioned the teens "for a good long while, and ultimately received confessions from both people."
Thomas remained in the Hall County jail late Thursday. The juvenile was released to his parents by a judge, Sargent said.