Guilty plea in ND-BG athletic field house arson

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The man accused of intentionally setting fire to the field house at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons in Schenectady accepted a plea deal.

More than six months after arson destroyed the field house, justice is being served.

Shameek McDuffie, 20, pled guilty to Arson in the Third Degree.

The field house was used by the school to store athletic equipment and was totally destroyed by fire. McDuffie and two co-defendants were arrested in connection to the arson, but McDuffie started the fire, according to the district attorney’s office.

The Holy Trinity football team’s field house was charred and the equipment was melted right before a big playoff game coming that weekend.

Coach John Barber remembered the first moment he saw the field house after the fire.

“Destroyed, upset, confused; many things,” he said. “I was angry.”

Now, a concrete foundation has been poured in preparation to rebuild.

“A lot of kids had a lot of good times in there,” Barber said. “It was old. It wasn’t the best place, but it served a great purpose.”

News of McDuffie’s plea was another step toward closure for Barber.

“Joy, happiness, excitement; I was very pleased hearing that,” he said.

But he still has questions.

“I don’t understand why someone would do that,” he said. “You know, just out of boredom.”

Even so, he’s moving forward and said the team is doing the same.

“The kids are focused on the next season,” he said. “They’ve been working hard through the winter.”

Soon, they’ll be wearing new uniforms and will have a new place to make memories.

“But it will be really nice for them to have their own place again,” Barber said.

The team motto ringing true once again: “Fear the underdog.”

“It’s carried on each season there, so we’re just building a tradition,” Barber said.

McDuffie faces 1 1/3 to 4 years at sentencing. He will also be required to pay restitution. The amount will be determined at his sentencing on June 28.

He also waived his right to appeal the conviction and sentence.

The new field house will be finished mid-July – just in time for the season to start on August 14.

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