At about 4am on July 10th, 2010, Tompkins County 911 dispatchers got a call reporting a fire in the Town of Dryden, and a neighbor was helping Sgt. Bryan Bangs of the Ithaca Police Department climb down a ladder to escape his burning home. New York State police and fire investigators determined the blaze was caused by arson, and three years later, there's been little progress in determining who destroyed the Bangs home.
The Bangs home in Dryden after an intentionally set fire destroyed the house and contents. Photo courtesy of IPD.Authorities believe Bangs was targeted in the aftermath of an incident earlier that year in which he fatally shot Shawn Greenwood, a 29-year-old narcotics suspect who reportedly drove a vehicle toward police officers attempting to arrest him outside a west end business. Just days before the fire, a grand jury declined to recommend prosecuting Bangs for the shooting, effectively clearing him of wrongdoing. The grand jury ruled that Bangs had acted in self defense and in defense of fellow officers after attempts to use tasers as a non-lethal alternative were unsuccessful in stopping Greenwood.
In the weeks that followed the fire, a relief fund was set up at the Chemung Canal Trust Company, there was a benefit bike and motorcycle ride, and a benefit event was held at Lakewatch Inn to help Bangs and his family with the expenses of the significant property losses incurred in the fire. Officer Jamie Wiliamson at IPD tells us the Bangs home was a complete loss, and "He and his family were forced to build a new home."
Photo provided by IPD.Officials say Sgt. Bangs has not returned to his job. In addition to support from many community members, Bangs has received letters and messages of support from a number of police departments and organizations across the country.
After three years with little progress into the investigation, Bangs's fellow IPD officers are asking the community, "Jog your memories and see what you come up with." They hope area residents may recall noticing something odd or out of place in the early morning hours of July 10th, or earlier that week, even if they didn't think much of it at the time. "Oftentimes the smallest of details is what helps investigators connect the dots and crack the case," say police.
The Ithaca Police Benevolent Association says a cash reward offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the arson has been raised to $20,000. Anyone with information should contact Troop C of the New York State Police at 607-347-4440.