Man accused of setting fire to his Arlington home while his mother was inside

Security guard who lives next door helps rescue 73-year-old, detain suspect until police arrive

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville police on Wednesday evening arrested a man accused of setting fire to his Arlington home while his 73-year-old mother was inside.

Ryan Nguyen, 33, is charged with arson.

The fire was reported at a house on Dandy Avenue just after 9 p.m. Wednesday. That’s when Willie McBride, a security guard who lives next door, told News4Jax he immediately jumped out of bed after hearing screams for help.

“I was in my bedroom, lying down. I hear my neighbor screaming. It sounded like someone was trying to beat her up or get in, so I grabbed my gun, ran outside to see what was going on and the house was on fire,” he recounted Thursday.

McBride said he noticed Nguyen standing in front of the home. He said he then realized Nguyen’s mother was still inside and rushed to go help her.

“I’m ripping the fence off so I can get to the side door," McBride recalled. “Luckily, I see her walk out the side door, but she doesn’t know where she is. She can’t see because it’s too smoky. After that, that’s when I’m calling her so she can follow my voice and she’s crawling to the ground."

Once McBride said he pulled the woman away from the burning home, he looked for Nguyen.

“He comes back, walking down the street, saying, ‘I had to show her. I had to show her.’ And we were, like, ‘Had to show her?' (He said), ‘I had to show her what it looks like.’ And we were, like, ‘What do you mean?’" McBride said.

A neighbor’s video shows McBride holding the suspect at gunpoint, putting him in handcuffs and detaining him as the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department arrives.

Once officers arrived, according to an arrest report, police met with McBride and then they detained Nguyen, whose address is listed in Duval County court documents as the Dandy Avenue home. Nguyen was booked just after 2 a.m. Thursday into the Duval County jail, according to online jail records.

No injuries were reported in the fire. Neighbors said the 73-year-old, who the report shows is the owner of the home, was shaken up. McBride said the woman stayed with another neighbor Wednesday night and was with family Thursday. A neighbor also said the woman was relieved when she found out her Bible was salvaged from the fire.

“I really hate to see something happen like that to someone like her because she’s a really nice lady,” McBride said.

Wednesday night wasn’t the first police showed up at Nguyen’s home. In fact, according to Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office records, police had been called to the Dandy Avenue home 28 times since July 2019. Records show those calls for service include a domestic disturbance with violence, a dispute, a mentally ill person and a person calling for help.

Duval County court documents also show Nguyen’s sister filed a domestic violence injunction against him last month, claiming that he suffers from several mental health issues and that he threatened to hurt her and her daughter.

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