Suspect accused of setting Homestead man on fire held on $1 million bond

 

A man accused of setting fire to a parked truck as the driver slept inside has been ordered held on a $1 million bond by a Monroe County circuit judge.

The stiff bond against Stuart Collins, 28, of Raleigh , North Carolina, stems from the incident that occurred on July 12 at JJ's Doghouse bar at U.S. 1 and 107th Street in Marathon.

The victim, Jose Gonzales, 52, of Homestead, suffered burns over 61 percent of his body and remains in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Deputies said in a report that video cameras captured Collins, 28, sparking the truck blaze that injured Gonzalez. Collins has been charged with attempted murder, arson with bodily injury and arson-property damage, criminal mischief and criminal attempt to commit the other crimes. All are felonies.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office Detective Manny Cuervo said in his report that Collins and Gonzales apparently exchanged words inside the bar, possibly arguing over a girl. Gonzales left at some point to sleep in his truck, a 2006 Chevrolet owned by Florida Paving and Construction, parked outside the bar.

Around 3:15 a.m., the truck was reported ablaze. When deputies and firefighters arrived, they found the truck "fully engulfed." Gonzales "was on fire and had to be extinguished" by emergency personnel, the report said.

Video cameras outside the bar captured Collins igniting the vehicle with a Bic lighter. Collins was eventualy arrested. Combined damage to the truck and JJ's is "in excess of $115,000."

Collins’ arraignment is set for Aug. 1 in Marathon.

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