A New Bedford man has been indicted by a Bristol County grand jury in connection with the May 2023 fire at the vacant Hawthorne Country Club in Dartmouth.

The grand jury indicted Shawn Lee Medeiros, 31, on Wednesday for starting the May 7, 2023 fire.

A warrant was issued for his arrest and he was arrested Thursday by members of the Massachusetts State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, as well as the State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section.

Medeiros faces one count of burning a building.

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According to the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office, Medeiros was arraigned Thursday and released on the condition that he stay away from the Hawthorne Country Club and that he report to the probation department at least one time per week.

On May 7, 2023 – just a little over a week after the Hawthorne Country Club had been sold for $3 million to national developers Toll Brothers, with an eye toward turning the property into a senior living community – a fire broke out at the club.

READ MORE: Dartmouth's Hawthorne Country Club Sold for $3 Million

Fire crews arrived to find the clubhouse fully engulfed in flames, and battled the blaze for about two hours; however, the building was a total loss.

Dartmouth Police via Facebook
Dartmouth Police via Facebook

“The Hawthorne Country Club had no running water, electricity or other utilities which could have caused the fire,” the D.A.’s Office said in a release. “In addition, the degree of the fire was immediately suspicious.”

READ MORE: Dartmouth's Hawthorne Country Club Destroyed in Fire

Investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire was deliberately set inside the building, and set in multiple different areas. The D.A.’s Office said a state police K-9 was also brought to the scene and detected the presence of accelerants.

In addition, an independent insurance investigation also found that the fire was deliberately set.

“Samples from the debris were sent to an independent laboratory for analysis and testing confirmed the presence of accelerants which were used to set the fire,” the D.A.’s Office said.

Dartmouth Police via Facebook
Dartmouth Police via Facebook

State police began interviewing witnesses, one of whom was Medeiros, who was present at the scene of the fire. Medeiros told investigators he was working at the club the morning of the fire, transporting tables and chairs from the country club to a building in New Bedford.

Medeiros’s multiple interviews with law enforcement and surveillance footage from the area led to him being named the suspect.

A Look at the Abandoned Hawthorne Country Club

Crime Rate Statistics in SouthCoast Towns

Here are the crime rate statistics for SouthCoast communities, utilizing data from 2022, the most recent year available. Annual data is from the Massachusetts Crime Statistics. The number of crimes is a data collection of total arrests, DUI/OUI charges, violent crimes, and hate crimes. The clearance rate is the number of charged crimes divided by the total number of crimes recorded. We listed the SouthCoast towns alphabetically.

Gallery Credit: Ariel Dorsey

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