On Friday, the Hancock County Sheriff's Office charged two juveniles in connection with a house fire at 62714 Diamondhead Drive North in Diamondhead, which occurred on Jan. 15.
"After a thorough investigation conducted by the Hancock County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division, investigators were able to gather facts that led to the arrest of the two juveniles responsible for the fire," according to a press release issued Friday by Chief Deputy Jeremy Skinner. "Not only were the juveniles charged through Hancock County Youth Court for felony Malicious Mischief for their involvement in setting the fire, they were also charged with one count each of Burglary for stealing items from the house fire, two counts each for Petite Larceny for the theft of items from Diamondhead Inn and the Diamondhead Community Center, and multiple charges of misdemeanor Malicious Mischief for graffiti and other vandalism done throughout the City of Diamondhead.
"Since this incident, media reports have speculated and alleged that gang and/or satanic activity was rampant throughout Diamondhead. These rumors have circulated through multiple social media sources and our Criminal Investigations Division was not able to substantiate this information."
"I am glad that with this arrest, we can put the citizens in and around Diamondhead at ease that this incident does not reflect a 'gang problem' as the source or motivation of these crimes,"Sheriff Ricky Adam said in the release. "It is unfortunate that two juvenile offenders will now be introduced into the justice system at a young age, but it is our hope that this intervention will serve to correct their path in life. As we know all too well, these 'quality of life' crimes are burdensome to our community and we will continue to pursue these cases so that citizens have some peace of mind. I do think it is very important that when these incidents happen, we look to official sources of information, such as the Sheriff's Office, to avoid public hysteria over miscommunicated facts."
Because the offenders are juveniles, their names will not be released, Skinner said.