Community wants Dollar Tree, damaged by arson, to reopen

A Dollar Tree store caught fire Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2016, at 1905 Wayne Ave., in Dayton. DeANGELO BYRD / STAFF
A Dollar Tree store caught fire Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2016, at 1905 Wayne Ave., in Dayton. DeANGELO BYRD / STAFF

Fire caused $250K damage to Dollar Tree store that had customers, staff inside.

UPDATE @ 7:55 p.m. (Jan. 3): Community residents are urging the owners of the Dollar Tree on Wayne Avenue to reopen the business that was severely damaged in an arson on Christmas Eve.

Residents taped to the stores entrance printed and scribbled messages of support and appreciation. “Yes, please reopen!” wrote one resident, Brian Hoeflich. “This neighborhood needs you badly!”

Other messages were signed by young children, including 4-year-old Armando. “Please get rebuilded so me and my papaw can shop again,” he wrote.

Mike Schommer, Walnut Hills Neighborhood Association president, said the Dollar Tree provides convenient and low-cost goods and groceries to the neighborhood.

Kroger, Walgreens and Dollar General are all about three-tenths of a mile north of the shuttered store on Wayne Avenue, but some prefer the Dollar Tree for its location, prices, products or employees, he said.

-- Reported by Staff Writer Cornelius Frolik

EARLIER REPORT (Jan. 28)

The three Dayton children arrested for lighting ablaze an occupied Dollar Tree on Christmas Eve are too young to be jailed on their felony aggravated arson charges — a "rare situation" for the Montgomery County Juvenile Courts, Administrator James Cole said.

The boys — two are age 10, another age 11 — were arrested following a Christmas Eve incident that caused $250,000 in damage to the Dollar Tree store at 1905 Wayne Ave. They were arrested Dec. 25 and released home the same day on 24-hour electronic home monitor ahead of a juvenile court magistrate hearing next month.

“Having youth this young actually commit an arson of an occupied building is a rare situation,” Cole said. “We do see other cases of youth as young as 10 and under performing various criminal offenses, but not something to the degree that we see here.”

A Dayton police report lists a fourth juvenile suspect, but that person is not in juvenile court and further details were not immediately available. Each of the children are from Dayton and have no prior history with juvenile court.

Cole said options for dealing with children under 12 are limited, meaning many counties simply do nothing and release children to their families or a local children’s services.

In Montgomery County, however, Cole said the county attempts to collaborate for so-called “10-and-under” cases to concentrate on treatment and rehabilitation instead of official charges. Cole said he does not know how the juvenile court will handle the case, but said such a route “might be wise.”

“We really want to get to the root of the problem here. It’s not a question of punishing, even though we do want to hold the youth accountable,” Cole said. “Certainly in an occupied building as we have here, you would hope that even for a 10 and 11-year-old that they would understand they’re putting lives and property in jeopardy.”

The Dollar Tree store is closed indefinitely.