Two former volunteer firefighters each face two felony counts of arson and four counts of criminal mischief following a vandalism spree and fire early Wednesday in two communities.
Brandon Marcell Diewald, 18, and Justin Edward Chorba, 18, both of Leetsdale, remain in the Allegheny County Jail on $30,000 straight bond each. A preliminary hearing is set for June 28.
Police in and said the men damaged nine cars in the two boroughs and set fire to a pile of garbage in front of a home on Shields Lane in Edgeworth.
Edgeworth Police Chief John English said Chorba and Diewald confessed, telling police that they became "bored" and went out seeking entertainment.
Edgeworth Fire Chief Tim Scott said the two are no longer members of the fire department as a result of their arrests. Scott said both were new volunteer firefighters with the department. One recently ended his probationary period while the other was still on probation.
“This fire department has been here as long as the borough has been here. They have an exceptional reputation,” English said. “It’s very sad these two individuals did what they did.”
Leetsdale Patrolman Michael Slawianowski said he was returning to the station about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday from another call when two females met him outside to report that Diewald and Chorba were slashing tires in Leetsdale, Edgeworth and possibly Sewickley.
Slawianowski said the two began slashing tires in front of the girls, who didn’t want to be mixed up in the mischief, he said.
Slawianowski notified Edgeworth and police, and officers began looking for the men based on the girls' statements. Along the way, Slawianowski said, he found three cars vandalized on Broad Street and one on Victory Lane.
Trash cans in Edgeworth were set out for weekly garbage pickup, and police said the men used some of them to set a fire. Slawianoski said the fire was only several feet away from a utility pole.
The extinguished the flames.
Officers found the men 10 to 15 minutes later in Edgeworth, Slawianowski said, adding that police received no reports of damaged cars in Sewickley.
“Neither boy could really explain why they did it,” Slawianowski said.
Leetsdale Magisterial District Judge arraigned them on charges filed by both departments. Leetsdale charged Chorba and Diewald with criminal mischief and conspiracy. Edgeworth Police filed the more serious felony charges of arson and risking a catastrophe, along with two counts of conspiracy and four counts of criminal mischief, one for each damaged car in the borough.
Police said Chorba had enlisted to join the National Guard prior to his arrest.