UPPER MARLBORO — A Prince George’s County man and aspiring volunteer firefighter was sentenced to 30 years in prison, suspending all but eight of those years, on charges of first-degree arson on May 17.
Tyree Torney, 20, had been in the process of becoming a volunteer firefighter and pled guilty in February to several incidents of arson before he was sentenced by Judge Nicholas Rattal that morning, said State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy in a press conference following the sentencing.
“These crimes were very heinous,” Braveboy said. “These crimes affected people, our school system and our community.”
Torney was charged for setting three fires throughout the county, according to the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department. The first was set near his home under a bridge on May 2, 2017. The bridge was on Stretford Way in Hyattsville. He was charged with second-degree arson, first-degree malicious burning and malicious destruction of property.
The next two fires directly put the lives of other people in jeopardy.
One of those fires was set to his ex-girlfriend’s home in Upper Marlboro days later on June 10. She, along with her infant and her family, were in the home sleeping at the time the fire started. Had it not been for their dog barking, alerting them of the fire, all of the family members risked not getting out of the home in time, Braveboy said.
According to the Fire/EMS Department, Torney had allegedly broken up with his ex-girlfriend in May of that year.
The third fire setablaze on Feb. 12, 2018. There were students and staff in the building at the time, and the fire caused significant damage to the school. According to Braveboy, Suitland High School Principal Danny Miller spoke at the sentencing hearing and said there was a personal connection between Torney and the school as he was at one point a student at there.
For setting fire to the school and his ex-girlfriend’s house, Torney was arrested on multiple charges including first and second-degree arson, first-degree malicious burning and malicious destruction of property.
Fire investigators from the Prince George’s County Office of the Fire Marshal, and the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Arson Task Force investigated the incident and Torney admitted his involvement during the investigation.
“In this case, the Fire/EMS Department really stepped up to lead the investigation in uncovering the criminal actions of Mr. Torney,” Braveboy said.
The judge, when imposing this sentence, went above the recommended guidelines of the Office of the State’s Attorney because of the severe nature of the offenses and the people who were involved.
In addition to serving his prison sentence, Torney is also required to pay restitution.
Chief Deputy for the Fire/EMS Department Tiffany Green emphasized that Torney was not yet an official volunteer with the department. Torney initially submitted his application to become a volunteer firefighter on Feb. 5, 2017 and was a probationary member of the Glenn Dale Volunteer Fire Association during the time of his arrest.
“It was revealed during the investigation was that he was in the background application process. However, he did not complete all phases of that process,” Green said. “It was also revealed during the background process that Mr. Torney participated in our Ride-Along program and numerous volunteer related activities.”
According to Green, as a result of this investigation, the department is reviewing its internal policies and procedures specifically related to the background process and the Ride-Along program, which allows prospective firefighters to ride with professional firefighters on calls.
The department was “outraged and angry” that Torney would commit these crimes while under the guise of becoming a volunteer firefighter as it damages the image of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, Green said.
“We’re here to deliver a service of safety to make sure that our residents are safe at all times so obviously we are very upset about it, and we’re thankful to the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Fire Marshal to bring it to a close quickly.”