POMPANO BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Two months ago, a man walked into a Pompano Beach store and started a fire. Now, officers are hot to make an arrest before he can do it again, and they’re hoping you can help. 7’s Nicole Linsalata has more on the investigation.
He looks like an ordinary guy walking into a Pompano Beach Wal-Mart, but what this man did when he got inside was shocking…
Special Agent Kevin Bonikowski: “It’s pretty bold and brazen to do something like that out in the open.”
The man set a fire in the menswear department using items he found in the store.
Kevin Bonikowski: “It’s all detailed in video and photos.”
Special Agents Patrick Roush and Kevin Bonikowski, from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating the case, taking a very close look at the suspect. A young man with dark hair, wearing a camouflage shirt, hat and white watch.
Special Agent Patrick Roush: “[He’s] 5’8 to 5’10, 150-165 pounds. White male.”
They want to know who he is and why he started a fire that cost Wal-Mart more than a million dollars in damage.
Kevin Bonikowski: “Perhaps the thrill — or revenge — or the thrill of seeing the fire department respond and the store evacuated.”
It happened Sept. 4 at the Wal-Mart on West Atlantic Boulevard, just after midnight.
Patrick Roush: “He appears to go by the register area and get a lighter, put it in the cart.”
As he shops, he picks up other items…
Patrick Roush: “Lighter fluid. Camping fuel. It’s like he goes through the store and he’s collecting items that he needs to commit this crime while he’s in the Wal-Mart.”
The man walks around, picking up a box, fan and golf gloves. Then, he goes to the menswear department and steps out of sight of the surveillance cameras.
Patrick Roush: “Seconds after that, you see the smoke begin on the shelf where some work wear clothing was located.”
A Facebook post from a customer shows a picture of the flames.
Kevin Bonikowski: “For a fire to go from initiation to flashover where it’s six, seven, eight feet above the shelving would most likely have some sort of accelerant for that to happen.”
The clothing burned quickly, the store filled with smoke and people evacuated. The suspect bagged the fan and the other small items in the cart, but didn’t pay. He then walked out with the crowd.
The fire was quickly put out and no one was hurt. But agents from ATF say it’s important to find the suspect as quickly as possible, because it’s possible he’ll do it again.
Patrick Roush: “We don’t want somebody else to get hurt if this guy goes out and sets another fire. A lot of times, they’ll begin to get confident and it will kind of spiral. They’ll start setting others fires now that they’ve gotten away with it once, so it becomes a protection of the public thing.”
So take a look. If you know who this man is, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $10,000 reward if an arrest is made from your tip.
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