Edison, New Jersey police officer Michael A. Dotro was arrested and charged with five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson on Thursday for allegedly firebombing the home of a captain from his own police department.
The firebombing occurred early Monday morning, when Captain Mark Anderko was home with his wife, his two children and his 92-year-old mother. Police believe Dotro either detonated a gas can outside of Anderko's home or used a Molotov cocktail to start the blaze. Anderko and his family escaped unharmed. His home, however, was badly damaged.
Dotro's lawyer, Lawrence Bitterman, told the Star-Ledger that he was shocked by the arrest.
“I find it utterly incomprehensible to believe that Mike, who I’ve known in his capacity as PBA representative, could ever be involved in anything like this,” Bitterman said. “I’ve spoken to him, and he adamantly denies any involvement and expresses his condolences to the Anderko family. He is sickened at the thought of someone doing this to a brother officer, or anyone else, for that matter.”
The Star-Ledger notes that Dotro has had an extensive history with the Edison Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit. He was investigated twice — once in 2008 for allegedly stealing a police car as part of a prank from the department's l0t, and once in 2005 on charges of police brutality that led to tensions between the department and the township's Asian-Indian community. He was cleared of wrongdoing both times.
And in 2008, the then 31-year-old fought his 68-year-old neighbor, Dennis Sassa, allegedly punching Sassa at least six times. Both men were charged with assault, and both were later acquitted. But before the fight, Sassa's shed was set on fire, causing damages to his car and home. No one was charged, but on Wednesday investigators interviewed Sassa about his dispute with Dotro.
“They asked me about incidents that occurred at the time, and one of them was the fire with the shed,” Sassa said. “They were particularly interested in that.”
Dotro, a 10-year veteran who made $118,000 a year, was suspended with pay and is being held on $5 million bail.
[Image via CBS New York]
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