Video shows suspect in string of Lake County arsons setting fire, deputies say

No arrest made

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – The Lake County Sheriff's Office on Friday released multiple videos that show a man wanted in connection with a string of recent arson fires in the area.

The clearest video, taken from inside a Sunoco in Umatilla on Sunday morning, shows a man with a dark blue or black mask covering his face spraying liquid on gum and other items then using a match or lighter to set fire to an object that he then stuffs near the cashier window.

The whole incident took about 30 seconds, according to the video.

The other videos come from Old Crow BBQ and Jolly Roger's Guns Gold & Pawn Inc., both in Umatilla.

Surveillance footage from the restaurant recorded on Saturday shows the man coming out the back door and folding something in a cloth, then going back inside the eatery.

At Jolly Roger's, the video showed the man using a crowbar to pry open the front door Monday morning, going inside then leaving about a minute later.

Roger Minger, the owner of Jolly Roger's Guns Gold & Pawn Inc., told News 6 $2,000 worth of jewelry was taken from his store after a man broke in. Minger is relieved his business wasn't set on fire. 

"He stole our sense of security, our sense of community, he really did," Minger said. "To be honest, the guy that came in here seemed pretty professional.​ We lost some inventory, that we can survive. Had he burned us down, we'd be out of business."

Deputies have not identified the man in the videos. 

"This is somebody that appears to be familiar with the community," said Sergeant Fred Jones. "It almost feels personal. We're hoping people recognize who this guy is."

Along with those incidents, fires have also affected a home, a barn and multiple vehicles, including two that belong to a deputy.

Alfred Simmons woke up Sunday morning to find his SUV torched. 

"Being safe, that's gone," he said. "It's scary to go to sleep living in this wooden frame house."

Simons doesn't recognize the man in the video, and can't think of why any of these businesses or homes are being targeted. Now, he and his wife are splitting shifts when it comes to sleeping for their own safety. 

"She stays up all night, I sleep all night and she sleeps all day and I stay up all day," he said. "Until they catch him." 

The Lake County fire chief is asking anyone with information about the fires to call 877-NO-ARSON.

About the Authors:

It has been an absolute pleasure for Clay LePard living and working in Orlando since he joined News 6 in July 2017. Previously, Clay worked at WNEP TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he brought viewers along to witness everything from unprecedented access to the Tobyhanna Army Depot to an interview with convicted double-murderer Hugo Selenski.