Man sets fire to neighbor's car after hurling racial slur, police say

Suspect accused of telling victim he was too 'flashy'

SOUTH DAYTONA, Fla. – A man called his neighbor a racial slur and threatened that his days were numbered before setting the victim's car on fire, according to the South Daytona Police Department.

Police said Joseph Minor, 56, approached his neighbor, Ronald Sweet, as he was outside washing and waxing his car and told Sweet he was "flashy," called him a racial slur, said he would "take care" of him and his vehicle and warned that his days were numbered.

After the verbal altercation, the victim and his girlfriend went inside their apartment on Palmetto Avenue for the night. About 10 minutes later, around 12:35 a.m. Sunday, the victim heard a boom and saw that his vehicle was set on fire and Minor was walking away from the flames, according to the report.

Sweet and his fiancee, Cecilia Jones, both told police that Minor has made threats in the past and regularly uses racial slurs when talking to them and other tenants, the affidavit said.

"It's absolutely a hate crime. It's absolutely because apparently, he don't like colored people," Sweet said. "He told me my days were numbered. I won't be flashing anymore."

Minor said he was not involved in the fire, even though witnesses reported seeing him near the car at the time the fire was set, according to authorities. 

During an interview at the police station, Minor said he was acting within the law and that the apartment complex is unsafe because drug dealers live there, the report said. Minor claimed he never called police because he didn't think they could do anything about it.

Minor was charged with arson that caused damage to a structure and criminal mischief with property damage.

South Daytona Police Lt. Mark Cheatham said that Minor could face a hate crime charge.

"The negative comments he was making toward his neighbor, indicating that he hates them specifically for that. That could lead to something along those lines and we're going to charge him. But we need more probable cause and more information before we can go that avenue," Cheatham said.

About the Authors:

Loren Korn is a native Texan who joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2014. She was born and raised in Houston and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Journalism.