Neighbor fights back after Miami arsonist sets apartment ablaze

MIAMI (WSVN) - An arsonist captured on surveillance video igniting flames inside a Miami apartment was apprehended by a quick-thinking neighbor.

Cameras were rolling as 24-year-old Luis Menendez was running away from the scene of an apartment fire, at around 1 a.m., Monday. But the suspect wouldn’t get far.

Miguel Quintero, who lives in a nearby unit, said he was up early Monday, working, and went outside to take a break when he was approached by Menendez asking for directions.

Quintero thought it was odd, so after he went back inside and sat downstairs for a few minutes, flames erupted outside.

“As soon as I open the curtain, I see a big ball of fire and I hear a big whoosh,” he said. “Everything lit up like a Kiss concert.”

The surveillance video shows the suspect holding a gas can and bending over to pour it.

Quintero said he saw the mat outside his next-door neighbor’s door had been set on fire.

“If that fire had been given two minutes, it would’ve caught the door on fire, it would’ve caught the wood on fire, it would’ve caught the curtains on fire,” he said. “The whole building could’ve gone down.”

Susan Rios, whose doormat was set on fire, said she was with her two grandchildren inside the apartment unit.

“My horror when I ran down the stairs — I saw the smoke coming in, the door charred on the other side — and all I can think of is, ‘I’ve got to get these babies out safely,'” said Rios. “That was just the horror going through my mind.”

The next bit of surveillance shows him moving the burning mat away and knocking on his neighbor’s door before going after Menendez.

“And at the very last second, I can see his face. He cringes, then ‘bam.’ I level him,” Quintero said.

But Quintero wasn’t done with the suspect.

“So I drag him all the way back here. I lay him down,” he said. “I want him to see what he did. I show him the door. My neighbor comes out, I say, ‘This is the guy that set the house on fire.'”

Menendez was arrested and charged with arson, battery and three counts of premeditated murder.

He’s being held on $165,000 bond.

“I love seeing bad guys like that get caught, and I don’t mind being the one to do it,” Quintero said.

Rios was grateful her neighbor stepped in to help prevent the fire from spreading.

“I don’t know what to do for him. He literally saved our lives,” she said.

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