A criminal defendant in Daytona Beach has been arrested and is facing charges in connection with a series of nearly 30 arson incidents in the region. The man is currently charged with parole violations, disorderly conduct and resisting an officer, though he is suspected of igniting the string of Florida fires. He may be required to mount a criminal defense against arson allegations, depending on the outcome of the current investigation.
Authorities say that the 40-year-old defendant was arrested after a suicide attempt and police chase. He had been named as a person of interest in several arson cases, so officers were on the lookout for him. They found him walking near a surf shop in Daytona Beach. The man ran to the second floor of that establishment and was threatening to jump, but he was eventually talked down from the ledge.
Police believe that the man may be involved in 11 arsons that have occurred this summer in the Sanford area, along with 16 unusual fires in Orlando. Three additional fires were also reportedly set in Volusia County during the second week of August. One of the fires in July destroyed a historic schoolhouse. Several of the other fires were set in both the downtown area of Sanford and in rural parts of the county. The defendant’s half-brother is facing serious criminal charges for his alleged role in an August fire at a mobile-home park in Sanford.
Defendants can be arrested on unrelated charges and then charged with additional criminal allegations after being taken into police custody. This is not considered a violation of defendant’s rights. However, “persons of interest” do have specific legal rights that protect them from police and law enforcement abuse.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Officials: Person of interest in 30 arsons arrested” David Harris, Aug. 16, 2014