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Fire probed at North Amityville home where man killed, cops say

The North Amityville Fire Company responds to a

The North Amityville Fire Company responds to a house fire on Avon Drive early Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. The house was the scene of a fatal shooting in August. Credit: Paul Mazza

Arson Squad detectives are investigating a fire that officials said damaged a North Amityville home early Thursday morning — a home that last month was the scene of a fatal shooting that a grand jury determined was justifiable self-defense.

The fire at the home on Avon Drive was reported at 3:22 a.m., Suffolk County police said.

Firefighters from North Amityville and Copiague responded to the scene and extinguished the fire. Fire officials said the home was unoccupied and there were no reported injuries.

The shooting at the home occurred Aug. 16 and resulted in the death of Rashad Woolridge, 28.

Police arrested Tephonte Smith, 18, hours after the shooting, charging him with second-degree murder.

Smith lived in the home, which he shared with his mother, Stephanie Sims, 33, and Woolridge, who authorities described as Sims’ boyfriend. Just days after the shooting and arrest, a grand jury refused to indict the teen, determining the shooting was a legal act of self-defense.

Police said that earlier on the day of the shooting Smith had physically broken up a fight between his mother and Woolridge. There was an order of protection in effect at the time of shooting that directed Woolridge not to contact Sims.

After breaking up the fight between Woolridge and his mother, authorities said, Smith returned to his basement bedroom while Woolridge left the home. Less than 10 minutes later, Woolridge returned — and went to the basement yelling for Smith.

Authorities said Smith shot Woolridge in the neck with a shotgun. Police found Woolridge dead with a loaded handgun in his hand, a shotgun on the floor near his body.

Smith, who has no criminal record, surrendered later in the day.

It was not immediately clear Thursday if investigators believe there is any connection between the shooting and the fire — or if the incidents are unrelated and coincidental.

With Andrew Smith


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