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Attorney: Boy, 13, to be charged in Lockport arson that killed boy, 14

LOCKPORT - At least one boy will be charged in connection with the arson fire that did $5.25 million damage to a Lockport tire recycling plant in August.

Attorney A. Angelo DiMillo said Wednesday that he represents a 13-year-old boy who has been a subject of the investigation. "I fully expect charges to be filed," DiMillo said.

Lockport Detective Lt. Todd A. Chenez said the case is in the hands of the Niagara County Attorney's Office. It is that office's job to prosecute cases in Family Court, which is where cases against defendants under age 16 are handled.


Joe Phillips, 14, died in the fire set Aug. 10, 2016 at the HTI Recycling plant in Lockport, N.Y.

The case had to go through the county Probation Department for review before reaching the County Attorney's Office.

Chenez would not say how many defendants' cases were referred to Probation. DiMillo said he doesn't know if there will be any other defendants in court, and the case has not yet been assigned a court date.

The Buffalo News reported at the time of the blaze that 14-year-old Joe Phillips of Lockport was trapped inside the vacant former office building where the fire started, on the Stevens Street side of the HTI Recycling property, about 6:30 p.m. Aug. 10. Phillips reportedly called a friend he had been with to say he couldn't get out and was having trouble breathing.

Phillips' body was found in the rubble Aug. 12. The fire burned until Aug. 13.

The disclosure of likely charges came as Lockport was preparing for a "Salute to the Stevens Street Heroes" at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Historic Palace Theatre, 2 East Ave.

The free public event will include the presentation of proclamations of thanks to chiefs or other representatives of the 60 fire companies that assisted in fighting the blaze.

Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey said the event also will include the showing of an aerial video of the fire, taken by a camera aboard a Niagara County Sheriff's Office drone, which has not been publicly exhibited before.

The smoky fire caused the mandatory evacuation of several blocks of houses around the fire. McCaffrey said one of the families that lived close to the fire scene and phoned in the first alarm also is scheduled to speak at the event.


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