New York State Police investigators said they have identified a male Shinnecock Indian Reservation resident as a person of interest in their investigation of a fire set at a Montauk Highway smoke shop earlier this week, but they do not have enough evidence to label the man a suspect.
Investigator Mike Stephens said it’s not clear when or how exactly the fire started on the outside of the Shinnecock Smoke Shop, but it is believed to be an act of arson. Police and fire officials were called to the scene at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday after the shop’s owners noticed the damage, which was minor.
Investigator Stephens, who was not at the scene on Thursday morning, said rumors among reservation residents brought up the names of several individuals, but so far there has been limited hard evidence pointing to any one person and the person of interest has been labeled as such purely based on hearsay.
There is a surveillance system on the property that will be checked by police, he added.
Although an exact motive is not known, police believe this is an isolated incident that is not related to a fire that destroyed the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s gambling authority trailer in November, which also is being investigated as arson.
“I really believe it’s unrelated,” Investigator Stephens said. “It seems like someone has a direct dispute with the owner of this establishment.”
New York State Troopers and officials from the Southampton Town Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating a possible arson at a Shinnecock Indian Reservation smoke shop.
Three state troopers were on the scene Thursday morning at the Shinnecock Smoke Shop on Montauk Highway along with three people from the fire marshal’s office and several tribal members. All declined to comment on the investigation.
One of the shop’s windows was broken.
Frank Bandiero, a spokesman for the New York State Police, confirmed that officers on scene were investigating an arson, but said he had no additional information about when the incident occurred or how much damage occurred.