BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) – Thanks to help from neighbors, police said they’re close to arresting a suspect who allegedly started his ex-girlfriend’s house on fire Friday morning.
Police are thankful no one was injured in the fire at 68 McKinley Street. Authorities said the neighbors got involved and helped identify the suspect and provided valuable clues for investigators.
“I’m just doing my best to try and make the neighborhood safer,” a neighbor said anonymously.
He doesn’t want to be identified because the man who allegedly did this is still on the run.
“I saw a gentleman that passed by – was up and down our street at a high rate of speed several times, circling the block,” the neighbor said.
Then he saw the stranger park.
“He ran up the street and went between the houses for about a minute or less and came back out running to the vehicle and he was trying to pull his hood up over his face,” the neighbor said.
Minutes later, neighbors saw smoke coming from the house. They called 911 right away, resulting in little damage to the home.
Police have witnesses and evidence to help in the investigation. A key piece of evidence in the case is a white bottle.
Quincy Jones, Battle Creek’s fire inspector, said he can’t say for sure if there was an accelerator but agreed that’s what it looks like.
“Right now, what we need to do is collect that evidence and get confirmation and continue with the other aspects of this person of suspect and interview him,” said Jones.
A neighbor took a cellphone picture of the suspect’s license plate and people who live at the house know the suspect by name, an ex-boyfriend of one of the occupants.
“This is a scene that gives good evidence of a good neighborhood watch program,” said Jones.
Police said a lot of times it’s hard to get cooperation from witnesses, but that wasn’t case on McKinley Street.
“If we are not helping our neighbors who is going to help us.”
Battle Creek police said they were in the process of securing an arrest warrant. When the suspect is arrested he will likely face felony charges of arson and home invasion.