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November 1, 2009
The New York Post
A Harvard law grad surrendered to cops yesterday after allegedly setting fire to an East Side chapel that houses remains of 9/11 victims as part of a drunken dare, sources said.
Brian Schroeder, 26, originally from Texas, walked into the 13th Precinct station house at about 7 p.m. in connection with the blaze at Memorial Park, on East 30th Street.
Charges were pending, police said.
None of the remains, which are destined for a memorial at the World Trade Center, were damaged but "mementos and candles left by family members in honor of 9/11 victims were destroyed or possibly stolen," Mayor Bloomberg said earlier yesterday.
Police sources told The Post they believe Schroeder was acting on a drunken dare, but have no other motive for the offensive oddball act of arson.
"How does someone walk into a place that's supposed to be secure and just light a fire?" asked FDNY Deputy Chief Jimmy Riches, who lost his son and fellow firefighter, Jimmy, in the Twin Towers. "It's beyond me."
The Fire Department was able to quickly extinguish the 9 a.m. fire inside the tent, which is operated by the Medical Examiner's Office.
It is not clear how Schroeder, a Duke University grad who had moved to New York recently to accept a position with a law firm, was able to get into the compound, but authorities got a report of a break-in about an hour before the fire.
"I just heard about this and it's hard to grasp. Clearly my prayers are with [Brian]," said a relative of the suspect. "With all my experiences with [him], he didn't have any radical agenda. Nothing but a good person."
Schroeder has no radical political bent, his family said.
"It's clearly out of his character and I'm sure he feels for the victims' families," the relative added.
The ME did not respond to a call for comment.