Police: Decatur man threatened female before setting fires, led authorities on chase

Marian Accardi, The Decatur Daily, Ala.
·3 min read

Apr. 8—The female victim of two fires Tuesday was threatened by the man accused of starting the blazes, and he led authorities on a vehicle chase before his arrest, police said in a release Wednesday.

The suspect in the case, Bernard Obrian Driskell, 35, was previously acquitted by a jury after being indicted for murder, was on probation for assaulting two correctional officers at the Morgan County Jail and was out on bond for driving through a yard and nearly hitting a person.

Decatur police and Decatur Fire and Rescue responded Tuesday morning to a house fire at 1009 Hillwood Drive S.W. and a car fire at La Quinta Inn at 918 Beltline Road S.W. in Decatur.

Police said that officers made contact at La Quinta Inn with the victim, who said Driskell was making threats to harm and kill her. Driskell was developed as a suspect in setting both fires, according to police, and officers located him later that day driving in Northwest Decatur.

After a vehicle pursuit, resulting in no injury or property damage, Driskell was arrested and found with a firearm and cocaine, police said.

Decatur police Capt. Jeremy Hayes, who was at the scene of the house fire Tuesday, said "the occupant was not staying there. The occupant was staying in a local hotel. After (the suspect) set the home on fire, he went to the local hotel and set the victim's vehicle on fire."

Officers initially charged Driskell with possession of a controlled substance and numerous misdemeanors: attempting to elude, reckless endangerment, driving while revoked, running a stop sign, reckless driving and speeding, and transported him to Morgan County Jail.

Police said that after further investigation, officers obtained probable cause to charge Driskell with two counts of second-degree domestic violence, second-degree arson and certain person prohibited to possess a firearm.

According to police, Driskell is a former boyfriend of the victim, and access to the residence belongs only to the victim, not Driskell.

Driskell, whose address was listed as the Hillwood Drive residence on jail records, is being held in lieu of $152,800 bail.

Driskell was previously charged with murder in the October 2016 shooting death of Kendrick Lamar Fuqua in Northwest Decatur. The case went to trial and a jury found Driskell not guilty in August 2018.

While in jail on the murder charge, Driskell in January 2018 choked one corrections officer and bit another. The altercation, according to a police affidavit, began when Driskell got upset about his bond in the murder case. Driskell pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to six months in jail and 36 months of probation.

In October 2020, Driskell was charged with reckless endangerment when police said he "drove recklessly in a vehicle pursuit," driving through a yard at Sixth Avenue Northwest and Second Street. A person in the yard had to "run out of the path of the vehicle to avoid getting struck," according to a police affidavit. He was released on $300 bond. The case is pending in Morgan County District Court.

marian.accardi@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2438. Twitter @DD_MAccardi.