BINGHAMTON (WBNG) – The Binghamton Police Department Detective Division on Monday said a man has been charged with murder and arson in a deadly weekend fire.
12 News spoke with Binghamton Police Captain John Ryan who said, “This was a rather violent incident and a brutal attack,” adding, “Mr. Pica-Torres is known to members of this department and have had contact with him in various aspects.”
According to police, officers and firefighters were called to the fire at a multi-unit apartment building located at 109 Walnut Street at 2:53 a.m. Saturday.
Police say firefighters found 61-year-old Victor Banayan dead inside a first-floor apartment.
According to detectives, the suspect has been identified as 45-year-old Wilfredo Pica-Torres. Police say an investigation found that Pica-Torres broke into the first floor apartment and beat Banayan and a 27-year-old woman, who has not been named, before setting fire to the building.
“The surviving female victim was able to escape the attack and structure fire (originating in the first floor apartment) with the assistance of second floor apartment tenants; whom were awoken from sleep by the noise of the attack and fire,” detectives said in a news release Monday.
Police say the woman sustained injuries including bone fractures and blunt force trauma to her head, torso and legs. The female victim was treated by EMS and later hospitalized.
Police say the woman lived at the home with Banayan.
Police say three adults and four children who lived in a second-floor apartment were able to safely escape the fire.
“It is alleged that following and or during the beatings, that Pica-Torres intentionally set the apartment and building ablaze utilizing a liquid accelerant to escalate the fire, thereby committing arson,” police said in the news release.
Police say Pica-Torres and the woman had a previous domestic and romantic relationship.
According to police, detectives tracked the suspect down at a vacant apartment located at 17-19 Thorp Street a few blocks from the fire scene.
Authorities say Pica-Torres had barricaded himself within that apartment, and tenants of the other apartments were evacuated.
The Binghamton-Metro SWAT team was summoned to the scene and a tactical SWAT action was initiated, according to police.
Police say they believe Pica-Torres then set that vacant apartment and building on fire. Police say he then exited the building and was taken into custody.
Pica-Torres had minor hand injuries and was provided medical attention, according to police.
He was later arraigned on the following charges and sent to the Broome County Jail without bail:
Murder, second degree, class A felony
Burglary, first degree, class B felony
Two counts, arson, second degree, class B felony
Police say any with information related to this case is urged to call the Binghamton Police Detective Division at (607) 772-7080.