73ºF

Police search for armed man in home invasion, house fire

JSO: Man broke into home, set house on fire, stole victim's car

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Police are looking for a man suspected of breaking into a Sandalwood home Christmas morning and setting a fire inside before stealing the victim's car, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.

Officers answering a home invasion call on Kabroon Court near John Promenade Boulevard about 10:30 a.m. learned the home was on fire, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Police said the man was armed with a gun when he went inside the home and robbed the victim. Then the man sparked a fire inside and fled in the victim's car, police said.

Firefighters knocked down the flames and rescued a cat, which they managed to resuscitate at the scene. No one was hurt in the blaze.

The commotion was a rude awakening for neighbors, who stirred to find black smoke billowing into the sky as first responders filled their street.

"It’s just me and my husband, but still, we are very concerned about that," Denitra Jay said. "And I was talking to some of the other neighbors and all of them are concerned."

The man behind the fire may be driving the victim's 2015 Mazda 3 sedan with Florida tag HYWP32. Police said the vehicle has a dragonfly ornament hanging on the rearview mirror.

Andrew Bell, one of the couple's neighbors, said the victims told him the gunman forced them into separate closets before setting fire to their home. Bell said the couple was able to push through the doors and break free before the fire spread. 

“Emotionally, they’re shaken up. Physically, they’re okay, (but) they’re still in shock," Bell said. "They’re still trying to process everything.” 

On Tuesday, police indicated the man may also be traveling in a silver minivan, possibly a Chrysler Voyager or Town & Country, that was seen on surveillance video in the area.

Police said the man, described as being in his early 20s, is roughly 5 foot 2 inches and 170 pounds and has a "praying hands" tattoo on the left side of his chest.

Neighbors said they could not believe something like this would happen in their backyards.

"It freaked me out because it was just a fire and I was glad the fire didn't touch our house. But then I heard the details. That really freaks me out," said Angelique Loveday.

Click here to donate to the GoFundMe site the victims have set up to help pay for expenses.

Police continue to search for the man and ask anyone who might see him to call the Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email the office at JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward of up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477).


About the Authors: