Accused arsonist: “I was drinking and wasn’t on my meds”

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – As he walked into court on Thursday, a man accused of setting nine fires in the Tonawandas told News 4’s Nalina Shapiro he started the blazes because “I was drinking and wasn’t on my meds.”

PHOTOS | See photos from each fire scene

Christopher Syrcause, 26, was arraigned in City of Tonawanda Court Thursday morning on charges of felony arson and reckless endangerment charges. His bail was set at $50,000.

When bail was set, Syracuse shook his head and said, “I’m not a risk to the community. I was just…”

The judge cut him off, saying, “Thank you very much, sir.” Syracuse’s attorney told him to “go sit down.”

Prosecutors say he set a string of fires that terrorized the City of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda. Eight of the fires were in North Tonawanda, and one was in the City of Tonawanda on Enterprise street.

Hearing Syracuse apologize was of little consolation to some of the victims. Alex Moskal and Emily Young were burned out of their home on Goundry Street, in North Tonawanda. That fire was the worst of the nine Syracuse is accused of setting.

“It’s a cop out, it makes me feel like he thought it was okay. I don’t think he takes credit for his actions,” Young said.

“We keep remembering the little things, all the ticket stubs from all the events we’ve gone to, some of the autographs we had,” Moskal said. “I had an old Bills helmet with a bunch of signatures on it from the 90’s Bills. I won’t be able to replace that, but it’s better that we’ve got some stuff at least,” he said.

Syracuse had already been arraigned on 11 felony and four misdemeanor counts in North Tonawanda, and was arraigned Thursday for the fire in the City of Tonawanda. His court-appointed lawyer entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

When the accused arsonist appeared in North Tonawanda Court, he asked the judge if he could explain his actions. But the judge stopped him, saying it was in his own benefit not to speak.

While entering court on Thursday he told News 4’s Nalina Shapiro he was sorry and explained his actions by saying, “I was drinking and wasn’t on my meds.” When he left court, Syracuse told News 4 he was supposed to be on medication for depression. The last thing he said was “get the (expletive) away from me.”

He is due back in City of Tonawanda Court on August 19 for a felony hearing. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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