Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on March 10, 2023, Ricardo Buitron, 21, of Lakewood, was charged with two counts of Aggravated Arson, Robbery, and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in connection with a series of events that occurred in Lakewood Township on March 9, 2023.
On March 9, 2023, at approximately 11:30 p.m., a male entered Lakewood Township Police Headquarters to report that he was the victim of a robbery that just occurred in the area of Lexington Avenue and Fourth Street. The victim reported that a male suspect approached him in this area while walking down the sidewalk, brandished a pair of scissors, and demanded money. The victim reported that he was able to push the suspect into a nearby business on Lexington Avenue. The suspect then reportedly fled the area on foot in an unknown direction. The victim was able to give a description of the suspect to the police.
As Lakewood Township Police officers responded to the area, they were flagged down on Fourth Street by a witness who reported that a fire had been set behind a business. An investigation conducted by Lakewood Township Police officers determined that the owner of the business and the witness discovered a fire behind the store. They extinguished the fire and began cleaning up the debris, when the noticed a second fire had been ignited in the same area which they were also able to extinguish. The odor of gasoline was detected throughout the entire first floor basement of the three story commercial and residential structure.
A scene examination was conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime-Arson Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau. The examination revealed two points of origin, the first being on a black sweatshirt and the second a cardboard box within the immediate vicinity of the rear of the structure. It was determined that the fires were intentionally set by open flame to an ignitable liquid. Because of the quick suppression, the fires were contained to the sweatshirt and the cardboard box before spreading to the occupied structure.
The physical description given to police of the arson suspect matched that of the robbery suspect. Through further investigation, Buitron was identified as the individual who committed both the robbery and the arsons. A short time later, Buitron was apprehended by Lakewood Township Police officers in the area of Third Street and Clifton Avenue. Buitron was processed and transported to the Ocean County Jail, where he is currently lodged pending a detention hearing.
Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime-Arson Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit for their cooperative assistance in connection with this investigation leading to Buitron’s apprehension.
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.