By: WCTV Eyewitness News
May 19, 2020
LIVE OAK, Fla. (WCTV) — The Live Oak Police Department says it arrested a man after he tried to burn his ex-girlfriend's house down on Sunday.
Police responded to a call about a fire at 612 Scriven Ave. NW around 5 a.m. that day. An officer saw that all seven people in the home escaped, and one person was throwing buckets of water at the fire. Police say the Live Oak Fire Department also responded and fully extinguished fire.
The officer on scene says he saw a bale of pine straw with several burn marks on it had been placed close to the home. The fire department was able to confirm the fire started from that bale.
Minutes before police got a call about the fire, a police sergeant made contact with a man traveling in a silver SUV on Winderweedle Street. Police say a bale of pine straw was next to the SUV. According to the officer, the man was seen picking up the bale of pine straw and it looked like he was trying to put it on the roof of the car.
Police say because the man appeared to be OK and no criminal acts were being done at the time, the officer stopped talking to the man and left the area.
At the scene of the fire, the sergeant recognized a woman who escaped from the home. He realized the silver SUV he saw was similar to one he saw when he met the woman while responding to a home on Voyles Street at a different time.
Investigators found out the SUV at Voyles Street belonged to the woman's ex-boyfriend, Ruben Mejia. During the investigation, one of the people who escaped the fire said he saw Ruben's silver SUV drive past the home just before the fire.
Police say they then went to Voyles Street, where they saw the silver SUV. They then made contact with Mejia and his ex-wife. Initially, Mejia denied any involvement in the fire and said he had been home all night.
After Mejia's denial, his ex-wife confirmed she drove him to the area of 612 Scriven Street and that he had a bale of pine straw during this time, the department says. She says she didn't know Mejia's intent.
When police talked to him again, Mejia admitted to starting the house fire at his ex-girlfriend's home and said his ex-wife had nothing to do with it.
He was arrested and taken to the Suwannee County Jail without incident. He was charged with arson and is being held on a $100,000 bond.
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