A Flatlands arsonist pled guilty in Federal Court on Wednesday to starting a massive fire that ravaged Mill Basin’s Kings Plaza parking garage last September.
Twenty-three-year-old Evon Stephens faces up to five years in prison for setting the blaze, which injured 26 people and damaged over 135 vehicles parked in the garage, according to prosecutors.
Surveillance video on the morning of September 17 captured Stephens in the garage, located at 5100 Avenue U, which was closed to the public at the time. A security guard ordered him to stop for questioning, but Stephens walked away, according to authorities.
Cameras later caught the 23-year-old entering a parked car at around 8:15 a.m. and hopping out just before a fire started inside the vehicle, according to court filings.
The flames then spread, burning for more than three hours and devastating the gigantic garage.
Police tracked Stephens down later that day, and arrested him at approximately 3:30 p.m.
The fire exposed Kings Plaza for using the garage to illegally store inventory on behalf of local car dealerships, a practice for which prosecutors forced shopping mall management to pay a $1,250 fine.
After the fire, Stephens told prosecutors that he was aware the vehicles were owned by car dealerships, and he set the fire because he believed that people used the vehicles for “sexual activity.”
Stephens officially pled guilty in the Eastern District of New York to charges of using fire to damage property. He is expected to be sentenced by a Federal Judge on August 20.
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