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Teens facing charges after throwing lit fireworks into multiple occupied buildings: police

Justus Gilbert and Yavian Gutierrez, both 18, have been charged in connection to a series of arson-related cases.
Credit: West York Police

WEST YORK, Pa. — West York Police have allegedly charged two teens in connection to a string of arson-related cases. 

Justus Gilbert and Yavian Gutierrez, both 18, have been charged in connection to a series of cases where fireworks were thrown inside occupied buildings, according to police. 

West York Borough Police allege that the suspects were part of a group that threw fireworks into four different businesses over a three-day-period in May.

The first incident allegedly occurred on May 29 at 9:16 p.m. Police responded to the York Fuel Stop at 1129 W. Market St. for a report of subjects who threw fireworks into the business, according to reports. 

On the scene, officers observed smoke within the building and discarded fireworks. An employee at the business alleged that two suspects entered the store, lit fireworks, and threw them behind the counter. 

The fireworks ignited, burning the cashier's clothing and causing heavy smoke. The suspects allegedly fled the store in a white sedan with black wheels. 

That same day at 9:17 p.m., York officials responded to the Turkey Hill located at the 1500 block of West Market St. 

An employee on the scene alleged three suspects came into the store, lit fireworks and through them behind the counter. The fireworks sparked, burning the counter and melting surrounding items. 

According to police reports, surveillance reports from the incident showed the same subjects from the York Fuel Shop incident. 

On May 30, at 7:28 p.m., the West York Police and Fire Departments responded to the Dollar Tree, located at 1200 West Market St. Officers responded and the fireworks were extinguished. 

A similar incident occurred on May 31, at 9:12 p.m., at the Walmart in West Manchester Township. The subjects allegedly fled the scene in a white Toyota Camry with black wheels. 

According to reports, at 9:30 p.m., the suspects n the white sedan entered the parking lot of the Carriage Works Apartments and five subjects exited the vehicle. 

Officers made contact with four of the suspects inside the building. Gilbert was identified for allegedly wearing an identical shirt to one of the suspects from the Turkey Hill incident. 

According to police, Gilbert has since allegedly admitted to being the driver and owner of the vehicle during the York Fuel Stop incident. He allegedly went inside the building during the Turkey Hill incident, but did denied involvement in lighting the fireworks. 

He also alleged that two of the four suspects lit fireworks at the Walmart, and acknowledged that he knew what was going to happen with them, according to the criminal complaint. 

Officers also identified Gutierrez inside the apartment building. Allegedly, he admitted to his involvement at the York Fuel Stop, Turkey Hill, and Walmart incidents. Gutierrez alleged that he remained in the vehicle while the other suspects went inside to light the fireworks. 

A search warrant of the vehicle was executed. Lighters and dozens of fireworks were allegedly located inside. 

West York Police are still working to identify the other suspects involved in the case. 

Gilbert was formally charged with felony counts of conspiracy to commit arson with danger to cause injury, conspiracy to commit arson that endangers property, conspiracy to possess explosive material and conspiracy to risk catastrophe. He has also been charged in each case with misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit reckless endangerment. 

Gilbert also races robbery, assault, theft, stolen property and harassment charges from a separate case. He remains in custody at the York County Prison with bail set at $25,000. 

Gutierrez is facing similar charges as Gilbert, along with a summary criminal mischief count. He also faces robbery, assault, theft, stolen property and harassments counts from a separate case.  

According to court documents, Gutierrez has not been arrested. 

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