BRIDGEPORT — The Stratford Police Department arrested two teenagers Monday in connection with the fire that burned the town’s American Shakespeare Theater to the ground in January.
Police charged the teens, ages 17 and 18, with arson, burglary, criminal trespassing, reckless endangerment and many other charges. According to the West Haven Fire Marshal, this fire is connected to two recent fires in West Haven, but charges for those fires are pending.
Built in 1955, the theater had not hosted a play since 1989, but it was a point of pride for locals. Many famous actors, including Katharine Hepburn, performed there over the years. When it burned down, many felt devastation for Stratford’s landmark.
“It was catastrophic to a lot of people in the community,” said Mayor Laura Hoydick. “And, with young people, it makes you feel very badly about their future.”
Some said when the theater burned down, they could not believe it.
“It was a shock,” said Bob Dowler of Stratford. “We didn’t even know it happened until the next morning. We were just very surprised.”
But others told FOX61 they thought it was bound to happen.
“I was not surprised,” said Miguel Maldonado, who lives in town with his wife and two children. “This was kind of a dilapidated building and there was a lot of activity here that kind of shouldn’t have been here."
According to the Connecticut Post, the two teens are believed to have set as many as six fires across the state.
The investigation is active and ongoing.