Archive for the ‘arson’ Category

January 6, 2006

Clearwater, Florida

From the St. Petersburg Times of January 6, 2006

No charges in shooting of three neighbors

A retired USF police sergeant told officials he fired six shots through the door, fearing people were trying to break into his house.

A man who shot through his front door at about 2 a.m., wounding three neighbors carrying tiki torches on his porch, will not be charged with a crime, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Jeffrey DeVries, 44, a retired University of South Florida police sergeant, told investigators he feared people were trying to break in when they brandished torches on his porch early on Nov. 18, Assistant State Attorney Mark McGarry said.

DeVries fired six shots from a 9mm handgun through his door, hitting three of the four people outside, authorities have said. He then called 911 at 1:51 a.m. before barricading himself inside his Beverly Circle home for more than seven hours.

“I had to shoot people on Beverly,” were his first words to emergency dispatchers. “I just had four persons come to my house with torches. They were trying to break into my front door. They were yelling threats at me. . . . I’m the one being attacked. I’m the victim.”

The indication that DeVries genuinely feared for his safety weighed heavily in the decision not to charge him, McGarry said.

“Everybody has their different levels of fears,” he said, “but I think that he felt that he was in danger.”

Efforts to reach DeVries were unsuccessful Thursday. His father did not return phone messages.

Prosecutors also questioned the credibility of the people wounded because their accounts changed under questioning, McGarry said.

The three people shot – Samantha Frances Sipka, 16, Jason Thomas Biaso, 19, and Mark Eric Hoover, 46 – initially told Pinellas County sheriff’s detectives that they had been walking in the street shortly before 2 a.m. carrying tiki torches when shots suddenly rang out, authorities have said.

Their accounts prompted investigators to obtain a warrant for DeVries’ arrest on four counts of attempted murder.

The warrant was later withdrawn because physical evidence at the scene contradicted those accounts and indicated that they had been on DeVries’ doorstep when he fired, sheriff’s officials say. Investigators also learned that a fourth person had been present.

Confronted with the discrepancies, one of the four admitted being at DeVries’ door at the time of the shooting, reading signs he had posted on the door warning people to stay away.

All three have since been released from the hospitals where they were treated. On Thursday, a man who answered the door at 1820 Beverly, where Sipka and Hoover live, said he would not comment on the case.

McGarry said none of the four involved would likely be charged in the incident, in part because DeVries had not cooperated with prosecutors in the investigation into their conduct.

(More detail)

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September 25, 2005

Rowan County, North Carolina

From Charlotte’s WCNC.com of September 23, 2005

Residents take up arms against violent neighbor

A group of Rowan County residents have organized armed patrols from the rooftops of their homes overnight Friday to protect themselves from a man suspected of arson and attempted murder.

Neighbors are upset deputies aren’t on constant patrols or on a manhunt in search of David Lovett, a man accused of arson and attempted murder. If authorities can’t catch him, they are ready to take up arms.

“We’re not going to let this thing go by,” said Richard Walker. “We’re protecting our property and our homes.”

According to police, Lovett created a “hit list” of residents he believed stole money, cigarettes and shaving cream from him.

“I don’t know who is responsible for stealing my things, so I must punish all of you,” the list reads. “Give it back and I will not punish you.”

In an attempt to cross names off the list, Lovett has stabbed his aunt, Rita Regis, and burned several items in the homes of residents Scott Everhart and Amber Walker.

“He jumped out of his seat, grabbed the knives, stabbed her in the face and started stabbing her in the head,” said Regis’ boyfriend Douglass Altman.

Neighbors say four other residents were named in addition to the three that are already victims of Lovett’s attacks. Lovett frequently threatened neighbors with a machete and a hatchet, neighbors said.

“He believes he’s Sasquatch. He believes he’s Bigfoot,” neighbor Tom Lettice said. “He says, ‘I’m around when you least expect me.'”