POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A man lit a food pantry on fire Wednesday night in the area of Combee Road near Ellis Avenue in Lakeland causing around $150,000 in damage, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office
Gorden Nelson, 60, was caught on video by a nearby business owner’s cameras sitting on a bicycle next to a stack of pallets at 2938 Combee Road.
Nelson was seen moving toward the pallet and trying to ignite the pallets with an “opened flamed-type device,” deputies said.
He then rides away on the bike as the pallets burn. Nelson left the area when law enforcement arrived.
Deputies said several witnesses watched Nelson and were able to match his description to authorities.
When deputies approached Nelson, he told officials that he went to a nearby store, started the fire, sat, and watched. When the deputy asked why he started the fire, Nelson said he didn’t start the fire and only watched it after it started.
However, an orange lighter was then discovered in Nelson’s left pocket.
His ex-wife, Cheryl Nelson, who was shown the footage, confirmed Nelson as the suspect.
Nelson was arrested at 1:30 a.m. Thursday on Fletcher Avenue in Lakeland and charged with first-degree arson.