WUFT News

Arsonist Apparently Targeting, Torching Marion County Law Enforcement

By and on November 7th, 2013
A Marion County Sheriff car, burned by an arsonist believed to be targeting law enforcement.

Shane Chernoff/WUFT News

A Marion County Sheriff car, burned by an arsonist believed to be targeting law enforcement.

Four cars and a home have been set ablaze in Ocala by an individual who Marion County law enforcement officials believe to be an arsonist.

The twist?

The people trying to track the criminal down are the target of the crimes.

The sheriff’s office is looking for an arsonist who is believed to be targeting law
enforcement. Since June, there have been five incidents of arson in the Whispering Pines subdivision of Ocala — four in the past two months.

“Right now there have been two patrol cars, two personal vehicles, one citizen’s vehicle and an arson attempt at a residence since June,” said Brian Dotten, the sheriff’s lead investigator on the case.

According to Dotten, a significant number of officers from both the Ocala
Police Department and Marion County Sheriff’s Office live in the Whispering
Pines Subdivision. He said the investigation is leading him to believe the
arsonist has it out for law enforcement.

“We would assume that he has a personal grudge, since one Ocala Police Department vehicle was torched, as well as a Marion County Sheriff’s office, a deputy’s personal vehicle was set fire, and an Ocala Police Department’s personal vehicle was set fire,” he said

The subdivision does not have a neighborhood crime watch program, making it easier for the arsonist to commit these crimes. Dotten said there is a method the arsonist relies on.

“There’s a patrol car parked in front of the house, the patrol car leaves to go to work, the personal vehicle’s left there,” Dotten said. “So while protecting and serving, the personal car is left behind where the family is left inside of the home, and somebody comes and torches the vehicle.”

Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair is asking for help from area residents.

“We suspect that person lives in or around that area, and we’re asking citizens out there to see if they have any information,  and to bring it forth,” Blair said.

The Sheriff’s Office is offering a $5,000 reward for anyone with information leading to an arrest. Lieutenant Brian Dotten and Blair are now urging officers to park their cars in well-lit areas away from their homes.


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