Tampa neighborhood frightened after recent arson, vehicle damage

By Rick Elmhorst, Report
Last Updated: Monday, June 19, 2017

A Tampa neighborhood is on edge after a series of strange events.

They have happened on West Palmetto Street in the past few days. The latest incident happened early Monday.

  • Monday fire was latest incident, according to residents
  • 86-year-old woman was able to escape fire
  • Bricks used to smash bedroom, car windows
  • Woman concerned that homeless man could be behind crimes

Someone set fire to a futon next to a home, and the house caught fire causing $40,000 worth of damage. The 86-year-old woman living in the home was able to escape without being hurt.

On June 15, someone vandalized a car in the middle of the night. "They took a brick and busted the whole back of the window out," Pamela Miller said about the damage to her son's car.

Two days later, someone set the car on fire in the early morning hours. "Nobody is getting sleep now. It's like we are taking turns staying awake at this point," said Miller.

Someone also threw a brick at Reginald Nickson's bedroom window on June 15. "As you can see, I think the brick hit here because there is an indentation," said Nickson as he described the shattered window.

Nickson said the brick used to smash his window was the same kind of brick used to smash the car window at Pamela Miller's house.

Miller wonders if it is all connected to a bizarre encounter she had with a homeless man a couple of weeks earlier at a nearby park. She was at the park with church members and the homeless man shared some strange things.

"He dropped down on his knees and he put his head to the ground and he says, 'I have a confession. I'm an arsonist. I have done terrible, horrible things. I’ve set places on fire,'" she said.

Miller can't say if the encounter and the fires on Palmetto Street are connected but there is no doubt she and her neighbors are on edge

"We hope the police can find this individual," she said. "Until then the neighbors are going to be sleeping with one eye open."

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Fire Marshal's Office at (813) 274-7000.