Suspected arsonist leads chase through Florida in General Lee replica, deputies say

Oswald Pereira faces several charges, Marion County deputies say

An arson suspect driving a General Lee replica Dodge Charger was arrested after a chase in Marion County, authorities said.

MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A man driving a Dodge Charger painted to look like the General Lee from the "Dukes of Hazzard" TV show led deputies on a chase Tuesday night after he set fire to his wife's home in Marion County, according to authorities.

Oswald Pereira, 44, of Morriston, faces charges of arson, fleeing and attempting to elude law enforcement, resisting without violence and three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Marion County sheriff's officials said Pereira set fire to a home in southwest Marion County before leading deputies on a chase into Levy County, where he was found hiding in the closet of a mobile home. Pereira had burns over 15% of his body and was taken to UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, officials said.

Flames ripped through the roof of the home on SW 103rd Loop, where he got into an argument with his ex-wife before starting the blaze, deputies said.

"It was horrible. The flames were shooting through the roof," neighbor Shirley Gravelle said. "I feel bad for the children, because on top of everything else they're going through, now they have to worry about their family members and what they're doing."

Other than Pereira, no injuries were reported in the fire, and two dogs were rescued from the blaze.


Helicopter video of arson suspect chase

A pursuit then led deputies into Levy County, back to Marion County and again into Levy County. Deputies said Pereira ditched the Dodge Charger, which had the No. 74 painted on the sides of the car, and began driving a GMC Yukon. Authorities used a PIT maneuver to stop the Yukon, officials said.  

Pereira ran into a mobile home and was arrested, deputies said.

According to records, Pereira was arrested in April on charges of petit theft, and he was arrested in February 2018 on a charge of aggravated domestic battery.