Two Charged With Arson in Thompson Ave. Fire
Prosecutor: Bridgewater man assaulted police officer while being arrested.
A Bridgewater man was charged with aggravated arson and assaulting a police officer Wednesday in connection with a fire he allegedly intentionally set with another male in a house on Thompson Avenue early Wednesday morning.
Lance Chillemi, 24, of Bridgewater, was charged with aggravated arson, aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and criminal mischief.
James Gavazzi, 24, of North Plainfield, was charged with aggravated arson in the incident.
According to Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano, police responded to Thompson Avenue for a fire in progress Wednesday at about 1:30 a.m., and saw an active fire and someone in the basement of the house. A few moments later, police also saw an individual run away from the house into a wooded area, Soriano said.
About five minutes after that, police found Chillemi and Gavazzi walking on Thompson Avenue, and both smelled of smoke consistent with that coming from a structure fire, Soriano said.
Gavazzi's clothes also matched those of the man police saw running from the house, Soriano said.
While police arrested the two, Chillemi began to fight back, and got in a fight with officers, one of whom was injured in the struggle, suffering a knee injury, Soriano said.
Soriano said the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office Arson Task Force responded to the scene and determined the fire was set intentionally.
Jack Bennett, with the Somerset County prosecutor's Office, said the two men had no connection to the house itself.
Both Chillemi and Gavazzi were lodged in Somerset County Jail, with bail set for Chillemi at $50,000 cash only, and $35,000 cash only for Gavazzi.
Soriano said the units responding to the scene were the Bridgewater Township Police Department, Martinsville Volunteer Fire Company, Martinsville Rescue Squad, Bound Brook Police Department, Bound Brook Rescue Squad and the Finderne Fire Company.