Brockton Man Charged for Setting Fires as Break-in Diversion
BROCKTON — A Brockton man has been arrested on suspicion of setting a series of fires in March 2021 to distract authorities from a break-in at the Westgate Mall Sears.
The Plymouth County District Attorney's Office said Friday that 29-year-old Brian Leite was indicted on June 30 on charges of burning a building, malicious destruction of property, wanton or reckless destruction of wood, and breaking and entering, among other charges.
He was arrested Friday at his home and ordered held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing set for July 15, the office stated.
On March 17, 2021 a series of fires — including one at the Brockton Fairgrounds and another at a middle school—hit the city. At around the same time, a break-in was reported at the Westgate Mall Sears department store.
The day started with a fire reported at the Brockton Fairgrounds at 12:54 a.m.
Firefighters arrived to find the Old State House engulfed in flames. The historic building was ultimately destroyed, and investigators determined the fire to have been intentionally set.
Just two minutes after the first fire was reported, at 12:56 a.m., fire crews were called to a fire at the Brockton West Middle School. They arrived to find flames coming from trees and bushes near the school, and successfully kept the blaze from reaching the building.
At 1:15 a.m., a security alarm was tripped at the Sears department store in the Westgate Mall. According to the D.A.'s office, security footage shows a male suspect kicking in the bottom glass panel of the door.
The male suspect wore similar clothing and physically matched the suspect in surveillance footage caught at the RMV (next to the fairgrounds) and at the middle school, the office said.
Video surveillance footage shows another male suspect joining the first, and both taking money from the Sears cash registers.
Police responded to the alarm, and the suspects fled towards D.W. Fields Park.
At 1:39 a.m., the fire department responded to a reported fire in the lower woods at D.W. Fields Park. Investigators determined the cause to be arson.
Later that morning, at around 9:15 a.m., authorities found a section of turf at the Brockton High School football stadium was singed and charred with fire damage.
Investigators also searched the RMV property near the fairgrounds and found burned wooden crates and other burned debris behind the building.
Both of the fires were found to have been intentionally set, the D.A.'s office said.
Investigators believe the fires are linked to the break-in, and that two suspects lit the fires to distract police and firefighters while they broke into the store, according to the D.A.'s office.
After what the office called an "extensive" investigation involving DNA on clothing found nearby and dropped by a suspect fleeing from police, Leite was taken into custody.
It is unclear if police have also apprehended the second suspect.