Bomber Arrested
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An arrest was made Thursday in a 2017 arson case in which a Centre County Sheriff's Office van was firebombed. The suspect is a familiar name for police. In fact, he's due to stand trial in another arson case involving county property. The sheriff's van was firebombed while parked along East High Street just outside the Sheriff's Office in Bellfonte. Investigators quickly determined it was an arson case, and they were fairly certain who was responsible, but they didn't have enough evidence to make an arrest until just recently. It's not the first time Dennis Hassinger, of Bellefonte, has been accused of being a firebug. Last year he was arrested on charges of tossing lit bottles on rooftops of county government buildings. Now, in what sounds like it's right out of a scene of a prison movie, police say a jailhouse cellmate of Hassinger's told them Hassinger talked about all the arson cases, and admitted he used homemade Molotov cocktails to torch the sheriff's van in late November 2017, and then about a year later, did the same thing in trying to set fires on the county buildings. The van was gutted and a nearby vehicle also was scorched with the total damage estimate in that fire being close to $47,000. When asked why he set the fires, Hassinger reportedly said he was getting revenge after the county "got him several times and put a felony on his record that ruined his life. As for the separate case involving Hassinger and the charges he threw firebombs on the courthouse and Sheriff's Office roofs, he's due to stand trial next month. Court records show Hassinger was due in for a pretrial meeting Thursday.