Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on June 24, 2021, Jamal Preston, 26, of Egg Harbor Township, was indicted by a Grand Jury sitting in Ocean County on a charge of Attempted Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), in connection with a fire he intentionally set to a residential home in Lakewood on August 22, 2020. Preston was also indicted on four counts of Aggravated Arson in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1a.
On August 22, 2020, the Lakewood Township Police Department responded to a report of a fire at a residence in Lakewood. An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshals Office, and New Jersey State Fire Marshals K-9 Unit, determined that the fire had been intentionally set utilizing an ignitable liquid and an open flame. Further investigation determined that Preston did, in fact, intentionally set the fire while the residence was occupied by three individuals. Preston fled the scene, but was arrested at a motel in Absecon by the United States Marshals Service on August 31, 2020. He has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since his apprehension.
Prosecutor Billhimer commends the diligent efforts of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Meghan O’Neill who is handling the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshals Office, New Jersey State Fire Marshals K-9 Unit, United States Marshals Service, Egg Harbor Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Berkeley Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and South Toms River Police Department, for their collaborative assistance in connection with this investigation resulting in today’s indictment.
The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.