say they didn’t have any trouble tracking down a teenage suspect who allegedly lit his neighbor’s swingset on fire, then threw a propane tank at it in a heartbreak- and alcohol-fueled spree.
Sgt. Mike Fisher said the 16-year-old, who told police he was upset after breaking up with his girlfriend, was arrested early Aug. 2 after a Sunnymere Drive homeowner reported seeing someone set the backyard blaze.
“While [police] were looking for the individual, he had walked back to his house and got into a family car and went to go his girlfriend’s house to confront her,” Fisher said. “He decided not to turn his headlights on — clue No. 1 — so they stopped him” at Sunnymere and Blakely drives.
Fisher said the teen was intoxicated when he lit the ropes of his neighbor’s swingset on fire, then ran to another neighbor’s home and ripped the propane tank off the barbecue grill before tossing it at the flames.
“This individual was angry and intoxicated and for some reason, he thought it would be a smart thing to do,” Fisher said, adding that propane tanks do not explode so easily.
But the homeowner, who asked not to be identified, said he was alarmed when he saw the propane tank in his yard.
The man said his wife was awakened by noises from the backyard around 3 a.m. Thursday. When she looked out the window, the neighbor said, she spotted the teenager standing near the fire.
"She sees this guy standing there with the fire, all these flames lighting all the ropes and the swings," the neighbor said.
The man said he ran outside, trying to catch up with the suspect.
"As I was going to go to catch him, I ran by the fire and saw the propane tank," the neighbor said. "I was really scared."
The man, the father of two small children, said he believes the teen was trying to create an explosion.
"He wanted to blow it up," the neighbor said. "That's where our concern is and our fear — he can easily do it again."
The neighbor said while his wife called 911, he used a fire extinguisher to put out the blaze, "just praying it didn't explode in my face," he said. The man said the incident has left his family shaken.
"We were really scared because we were like, 'Where did this come from? Who is he?'" the neighbor said, adding he had never met the teen before.
Fisher said the 16-year-old was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and criminal damage to property.