A man starting a fire on a moonless night in a quiet neighborhood probably didn’t realize a video camera caught him in the act, Riverhead police reported.
Lee Ragland, 33, was seen setting fire to a garbage receptacle at the rear of the Luz En Tu Senda Church on Roanoke Avenue in Riverhead shortly after 2 AM on Saturday, October 26.
The fire spread quickly, causing “severe damage to the west side wall, soffit, and interior walls” of the building, according to a police report. Hagland was quickly located nearby and arrested, charged with third-degree arson.
A bail hearing by Riverhead Town Justice Lori Hulse later that morning didn’t go well for the accused either. Ragland has an extensive record and was remanded without bail.
On October 17, 2017, Ragland, who was living in Peconic at the time, was taken into custody by Southold police in connection with a burglary five days earlier. Police charged Ragland with third-degree burglary after an investigation into a break-in at NY Shed Company in Peconic. The business owner reported someone had broken into their office and stolen cash and an iPad.
Ragland was also reportedly convicted in 2007 of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and in 2017 of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree. He also has multiple prior misdemeanor convictions, according to published reports.
Church officials estimated that the fire caused $50,000 worth of damage. The accused was issued an order of protection to stay away from the church.