July 12, 2013

Update: suspect to be charged with arson

Update, Friday 7:45 p.m.: After consultation between the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s detectives, Stuart James Collins has been further charged with attempted second degree murder. Other charges against him include arson with great bodily injury and arson with property damage.

The North Carolina Man who allegedly lit a truck on fire early today, severely injuring a man inside, will be charged with two second degree felony counts of arson, according to detectives.

Stuart James Collins, 28 years old, from Jamestown, North Carolina will be charged today with arson with great bodily harm and arson with property damage. The victim in the case, 52 year old Jose Gonzales, remains in critical condition at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, suffering from second and third degree burns to 61% of his body, including on his arms, legs, back and head.

Initial investigations lead detectives to believe the two men had words in JJ’s Doghouse bar just prior to the fire, possibly arguing over a woman. Collins lit the truck on fire using a gasoline can which he overturned and lighted. The work truck, owned by Florida Paving and Trucking, had a tank of diesel fuel and a generator on it. There were several explosions resulting from the fire. Gonzales was in the cab of the truck when it burned. As firefighters and deputies arrived, they heard the explosions and saw Gonzales jump from the truck, on fire. He was severely injured. The building housing JJ’s Doghouse bar was also damaged by the fire and explosions.

Collins initially fled the scene. He eventually returned the scene of the fire and was apprehended there this afternoon.

The Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit is working together with the State Fire Marshall’s Office on the investigation.

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