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Arrest made in Ellington Masonic lodge arson: State police

Police said the man caught on the building's security camera helped to identify the man.

VERNON, Conn. — Editor's note: Video originally aired on Jan. 8

A Vernon man is facing charges after state police said he set fire to the Fayette Lodge in Ellington.

State police said the fire started around 9:45 a.m. on Jan. 7. The lodge was located on Orchard Street in Ellington. 

When crews got to the scene, they found a working fire in the building and were able to extinguish the flames quickly. 

Officials said at the time that there were two prior incidents in December where a rock or brick was thrown through a window in the building. 

Investigators immediately began asking for the public's help in identifying a man caught on camera wearing a dark hat and clothing. 

That man was arrested less than a week later in Vernon on Jan. 13. 

State police said 23-year-old Gino Degrandis was found on Prospect Street as Vernon officers assisted state police. DeGrandis was taken into custody and charged with third-degree arson and first-degree criminal mischief. 

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At an appearance in Rockville court, a public defender was appointed to represent Degrandis. The judge kept the bond set at $100,000. 

In court, the public defender said Degrandis appears to have mental health issues and recommended the judge order a competency examination which the judge ordered in addition to a mental health screening. 

The next scheduled court date is February 7.

Credit: Connecticut State Police

Investigators said that DeGrandis was seen on security footage of the building holding something close to his chest while walking to the lodge. According to the footage, DeGrandis was seen approaching a door on the south side of the building, carrying a cup in his hand.

In another clip of the footage, investigators said a splash of liquid was seen coming from the corner between the door and the retaining wall. 

According to the arrest warrant, DeGrandis left the property less than a half hour after arriving at around 8:30 a.m. 

The warrant states that a K9 trained to sniff out accelerants alerted to the presence of ignitable liquids in three areas in the vicinity of the burnt door and where the liquid was seen splashed on the security footage. 

Detectives concluded that the preliminary cause of the fire was arson. 

The next day, DeGrandis himself called Vernon police on a complaint. When officers got to the home, they noted that DeGrandis was standing in front wearing the same clothes that were identical to those seen on the person in the Lodge's security footage. 

Officers also received a tip that day that stated DeGrandis matched the description of the person they had seen on social media and had been at the shelter that Friday wearing the same clothing. 

DeGrandis was brought in the next day for questioning. 

According to the warrant, DeGradis claimed he was a freemason out of Michigan and had visited the Ellington lodge that day when he saw the fire, although he made no attempts to put it out or call 911. He also claimed someone stole the jacket and pants he had been wearing at the homeless shelter, but he did not know who. 

The following day, after interviewing witnesses, a K9 was used to try and detect ignitable liquids on the clothing and sneakers that were seized in the investigation and alerted to their presence on one of the sneakers and the pocket areas of the jacket. 

After speaking with more witnesses, police eventually arrested and charged DeGradis with starting the fire at the lodge. 

Jennifer Glatz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jglatz@fox61.com.  

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