TAMPA, FL - According to an online news report on fox13news.com, the Tampa Police arrested two men for allegedly igniting a Tampa police cruiser on fire. The arrest occurred on Monday morning, according to law enforcement officials. Fortunately, there were no injuries or fatalities in the torching of a parked police cruiser, which was stationed at the Shoresh David Messianic Synagogue located along the Bay to Bay Boulevard in Tampa, Florida. According to the synagogue officials, the Tampa police car was parked at the synagogue as a "preventative safety measure." There were no injuries or fatalities since the Tampa Police car was unoccupied at the time of the blaze.
At approximately 1:30 a.m., Tampa Police stated that they stopped two bicyclists who were riding their bicycles without lights. The Tampa police officers stated that they found the two men behind a closed shop located off of Bay to Bay Boulevard and Manhattan Avenue. The two men are 31-years-old and 34-years-old. The officers were able to identify the two men. As the Tampa Police officers continued to speak with the two suspects, the police officers stated that they started smelling smoke in the air.
At approximately 2:00 a.m., Tampa Police dispatchers took a call from a witness who stated that a Tampa Police cruiser was burning in a parking lot. The Tampa Police cruiser had been left unoccupied, the two suspects broke the car's window, and then the two suspects threw something inside of the police cruiser, causing it to catch on fire.
After law enforcement officials appeared at the arson crime scene, the police car's front passenger window was shattered, and the front passenger-side seat was on fire. One police officer's body camera footage shows a police officer rushing to the fire and spraying a fire extinguisher's contents into the police cruiser to stop the fire.
Ron Leef, a synagogue elder, stated that the situation was disappointing and sad, and he was thankful there wasn't any more damage. The man also stated that you never know how a spark here could erupt into something greater and cause injuries, deaths or further damage to property.
One of the suspects told Tampa police that he had caused a cut on his hand while trying to search through the synagogue's donation box. However, Tampa Police officers found blood on the police cruiser's front passenger door. The same door where the car window was shattered.
According to Major Eric DeFelice, a very clever Tampa Police officer noticed the two me without bike lights, and he stopped the two men. During the conversation with the two suspects, the police officers smelled like fire. The officers stated that the source of the men's smokey smell was the police cruiser that was purposely set on fire. The Tampa Police officers do not believe the Shoresh David Messianic Synagogue was a target for vandalism.
As the Tampa Police questioned the two men, the two men eventually confessed to breaking into the Tampa Police car and setting the motor vehicle on fire. Both men have prior arson arrests. One of the perpetrators has been on probation due to one of the arson arrests. Both men were arrested and were charged with arson and burglary of a vehicle.