Family wonders whether they are targets as video records man trying to set their house on fire

Eileen Kelley, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·3 min read

For the past year, an elderly Coral Springs couple have stayed in their home, leaving only one day a week for a quick run to the grocery store. The way the couple sees it, staying at home is the best way they know how to be safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But a young man lurking around in the middle of the night had other plans for the couple who have lived in the same home in a quiet community for the past 34 years.

Surveillance video captured at 4:40 a.m. Saturday shows a young man in dark shorts and a dark shirt getting out of small white sedan near the mailbox in the street. He’s carrying a red gasoline container as he marches up the driveway on Northwest 113th Terrace in the Cypress Run community of Coral Springs.

Parts of the video screen turn a bright amber as flames shoot up at the side of the garage when the man lights the accelerant, nearly catching himself on fire. He then races down the driveway and drives north in the little white sedan.

The fire went out on its own, and it wasn’t until a few hours later when scrolling through the surveillance tape did the couple even discovered that someone was attempting to set their house on fire. Police were called and the surveillance video was turned over to Coral Springs Police. The South Florida Sun Sentinel was also given a copy of the video.

“They are just scared out of their minds,” said Marc Schechter of his parents who have asked that their first names not be published.

The attempted arson could be the work of someone who paid the Schechter house a visit before. According to Marc Schechter as a well as an incident report from the Coral Springs Police Department, three weeks earlier someone came up to front window of the family room and smashed it in.

Schechter said police told him the window was likely broken with a bat and that the cases are likely related.

Schechter said his father, 75 and mother, 70, have been retired for sometime. Neither, said Schechter, can think of anyone who they may have upset enough to be targeted in any way.

“Their life is all about their grandkids — not some scumbag trying to light their house on fire or smash the window in,” Schechter said.

He said the couple has a small group or friends and gets along with their neighbors. He said pandemic chased the couple inside their home to avoid exposure to COVID-19, but the smashed window and arson attack has made them to feel like they are prisoners in their home.

Schechter is hoping by releasing the video of Saturday morning’s arson attempt that someone may come forward with information about the man.

A closer look at the footage shows suggests the man is possibly in his 20s. His dark hair is short and styled in a fade cut. His left forearm is covered in tattoos. He was wearing purple, white and black tennis shoes.

Authorities ask anyone with information to call the Coral Springs Police Department at 954-346-1256. Or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward, call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.

Eileen Kelley can be reached at 772-925-9193 or Follow on Twitter @reporterkell.