December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Family blames 5 car fires on gangs

ELYRIA — Lorain County family members believe a rash of car fires at their homes in Lorain and Elyria in the past month might be linked to gang activity.

Michael McCall was awakened about 4 a.m. Monday to find his truck engulfed in flames outside his house in Elyria. He said it’s the fifth time a member of the McCall family has found one of their vehicles burning in front of their houses in Lorain and Elyria.

The Elyria Fire Department responded to McCall’s house on the 400 block of Bond Street. By the time the fire was out, the truck was “completely burned out,” according to the police report, which also deemed the fire “suspicious.” A plastic gas can was found behind the truck, the report said.

Michael McCall’s brother, Leonard McCall, told police fires have damaged the family’s vehicles multiple times since the murder trial of his son, Marquis McCall, who was killed in 2009, finished a month ago. Bohannon Miller was convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years to life in jail.

Leonard McCall told police he thinks the fires might be the result of a gang retaliating against the family following the trial.

“It’s the gang maybe getting back at us,” Michael McCall said, agreeing with his brother. He added that he’s installing better security cameras outside of his house. Surveillance video from Monday morning showed a black truck outside the house before the fire, Michael McCall said.

Michael McCall said that if the fires are gang related, he’s concerned the people responsible could come back to burn down his house. However, he refuses to be frightened.

“If they think they’re going to scare us, we’re not going to be scared. We’re not going to run,” he said.

Lorain and Elyria police are investigating the fires, though they don’t know yet whether the incidents are related to gang activity, Elyria police Capt. Chris Costantino said.

Lorain police have put Leonard McCall’s house in Lorain on a watch list, meaning that more police will patrol the area, Lorain police Capt. Roger Watkins said.

Michael McCall said that apart from changing his security cameras, there’s not much he can do but wait.

“I’m not going to let them stop me from living,” he said.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.