A 16-year old and 12-year old made their first appearance in front of a judge Wednesday, and are now charged with arson in the devastating fire in downtown Prophetstown.
The brothers shuffled into juvenile court in leg and arm shackles, dressed in blue jean shorts, t-shirts and tennis shoes. The judge allowed the 12- year old to return to his father’s house in Prophetstown on home confinement.
The 16-year old remains in juvenile detention in Galesburg. He cried as he left the courtroom, and said goodbye to his mother, father, grandmother and grandfather, who were in attendance.
Police Chief Mike Fisk says the pair was turned in by their father and says the brothers confessed to sneaking out of their father’s house and lighting a recycling bin filled with cardboard on fire behind a local restaurant.
“They were out having fun, it’s no excuse. They didn’t know what to do. They were in a panic. They should have called someone immediately. They were scared”, said Chief Fisk. “They were remorseful. Their father was probably ten times more remorseful.”
But so many lost so much. At least 8 buildings burned to the ground, businesses destroyed, people homeless.
“There’s got to be consequences, there’s too much devastation”, Chief Fisk said.
The boys are visiting their father in Prophetstown over the summer. One lives in Wisconsin, the other in New York.
Both are charged in juvenile court with two different counts of arson and criminal damage to property. Officials say more charges may be filed.
Meanwhile, the town has set up a fund to help the fire victims, and begin the clean-up and then, rebuilding process.
“I don’t really think they’re focusing on those kids. They’re focusing more on the business owners and people who are homeless right now”, Chief Fisk said.