[PHOTO CREDIT: Lake County Sheriff’s Office]
[Original Publish Date: 06/09/21]
TAVARES, Florida — A man was arrested Sunday for trying to set his own home ablaze, according to an arrest affidavit.
Just before 11:15 a.m. Sunday, Tavares Police responded to 902 Maplewood Street after a caller reported Reinaldo “Ray” Rodriguez, 56, had “squirted lighter fluid on a chair and tried to light it on fire,” the affidavit states. When TPD arrived, they found Rodriguez and a witness sitting under a carport; the home was not on fire.
The witness told an officer he and another man were in the residence when Rodriguez, who had been drinking and was upset, began spraying lighter fluid all over the home. Rodriguez sprayed the fluid all over a chair and blanket and said he was going to burn the home down, the affidavit states. One of the witnesses began yelling at Rodriguez, took the bottle from him and threw it outside. Rodriguez eventually calmed down and one of the witnesses left and went to his own home. Rodriguez then jumped up and attempted to light the chair on fire. The remaining witness took the lighter from Rodriguez, and he found another lighter and lit the chair on fire.
The remaining witness went to the second witness’ home to ask for help and he returned and saw 3-to-4-foot flames coming from a blanket on top of the chair. The second witness removed the blanket from the home and threw it on the ground, he told police.
Tavares Fire Department responded to the scene to ensure the fire was out and found the chair and blanket with burn marks. TFD removed the chair from the home as a precaution, according to the affidavit.
TPD spoke with Rodriguez, who denied spraying lighter fluid and said the fire started from the “cherry” on his cigarette. He made “sly remarks about how he is upset with his roommates and the judicial system,” and said he is tired of law enforcement for not helping him and he was going to “burn this [expletive] down.” Rodriguez was apparently upset about a situation with a man Lake Legal News is not naming because he is not charged with a crime. Rodriguez filed an injunction against the same man for repeat violence in May. In a hearing earlier this month, the injunction was denied after testimony was given, according to Lake County Clerk of Court online records.
Since July 2020, TPD has responded to 902 Maplewood Street 25 times for a variety of reasons, including three overdose calls, fights, thefts, trespassing and verbal arguments.
The man Rodriguez attempted to get an injunction on is listed as the complaining party on some of the calls, according to records released by TPD.
Rodriguez was arrested for arson and is being held at the Lake County Jail on $10,000 bond.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. Born and raised in Lake County, she is a graduate of Umatilla High School and Lake-Sumter State College. She started her journalism career at LSSC, where she was editor of both student publications, The Angler and The Odyssey. Her professional career began at the Daily Commercial in 2004 where she covered cops and courts the majority of her time there until she left in 2009. Currently, along with being Editor-in-Chief of Lake Legal News, she is the Florida bureau chief for an international media organization. She has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]