Man arrested in connection to alleged arson speaks

PALATINE BRIDGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – One of two men charged in an arson investigation confessed to his role in the fire to NEWS10 ABC.

Michael Allan Tibbits, 45, was arrested and charged with conspiring to help another man set two different fires. He spoke to NEWS10 ABC Friday night and was remorseful for his actions. He said he thought lighting a house on fire was a joke and a game, but he quickly learned it was anything but.

Scott Joseph Cole (Montgomery County Sheriff's Office)
Scott Joseph Cole (Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office)

Police said 37-year-old Scott Joseph Cole allegedly set fire to a home at 104 Failing Hill Rd. Thursday night. He has been charged with one count of Arson in the Second Degree, one count of Arson in the Third Degree and Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree.

Tibbits was arrested and charged with conspiring alongside him. Tibbits explained step-by-step what allegedly happened that night.

“I was under the influence yesterday on alcohol; quite drunk,” he said. “I was pretty much told something about an incident. I wasn’t believing it. I wound up walking with the person, went up a driveway on the first incident, saw solvent to get sprayed with WD-40.”

Afterwards, Tibbits claimed he went back to his home to continue drinking, and that’s when Cole allegedly brought up the idea of setting the Failing Hill Road house on fire.

“I thought it was all a joke,” he said. “Not the fact that it was a joke, ‘Haha. Let’s go start a fire.’ I didn’t think it was actually going to take effect. I wound up following. I saw a torch and torch got lit. I saw a little flames but not a lot. Turned around walked back here to my room, and that’s when the officers caught me back here. When I went back out front, the house was engulfed.”

Michael Allan Tibbitts (Montgomery County Sheriff's Office)
Michael Allan Tibbitts (Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office)

Tibbits claims he did not realize – and does not know Cole realized – there were four people inside the home at the time the fire was set. He said if he could talk to them now, he would apologize.

“I would tell them that I’m very sorry,” he said. “If I was not under the influence, I would have came home. I would never have even have known nothing. I wouldn’t have been involved.”

Tibbits said when he saw the house set on fire, he didn’t think to call police because he was under the influence, and he was worried he would be seen as a participant in the fire.

Cole was remanded to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility without bail. Tibbits was issued an appearance ticket to the Palatine Town Court on February 5.


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