Austin Childers
Photo: Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office
Photo: Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office

18-year-old charged with arson in New Year’s Day fire in Gwinnett

An 18-year-old Lawrenceville man has been charged with first-degree arson after a New Year’s Day fire in Gwinnett County.

Authorities initially believed Austin Childers was a possible witness to the blaze, which damaged the interior of a home on Castle Royale Drive in unincorporated Lawrenceville.

A family was in the process of moving into the residence and was temporarily staying at an apartment when the fire broke out just after 5:20 a.m. Jan. 1.  

Childers was later identified as the suspect in the case after “investigators were able to match the description given by a responding fire crew and a second witness, of an individual on a skateboard, to Ring doorbell video related to other crimes that occurred in the same area that night,” Gwinnett fire spokesman Lt. Justin Wilson said Saturday in a news release.

Childers was already in jail when authorities said he “admitted to the burglary and arson” during an interview with fire investigators and police detectives. He was in custody, Wilson said, on unrelated charges after “an interaction” with Gwinnett police one week after the fire.

According to investigators, there are “several GCPD cases tied to the suspect.”

Childers is being held in the county jail on a host of charges, including burglary, possession of tools for the commission of a crime, DUI, speeding, improper lane change, open container, fleeing, theft by receiving stolen property, theft by taking and second-degree criminal damage, jail records show.

“A police detective will be pursuing additional arrest warrants for Childers in the near future,” Wilson said.

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