RIVIERIA BEACH, FL – On October 11th, a family home was set on fire with numerous members of the family inside, ranging from small children to a disabled grandmother.
Fortunately, the family was able to escape. Riviera Beach police revealed that the suspect, an ex-boyfriend of one of the occupants and ex-convict, has been arrested for the crime.
The house fire forced eight people that were inside the home to vacate. The residents, a grandmother bound to a wheelchair, two adults and five children were able to escape in time.
The grandmother, Katrina Fleming told the Palm Beach Post:
“I’m still shaking. I close my eyes for a few minutes and all I see is the orange flames of fire in my face.”
The fire was determined to be arson and police began to focus their attention on an ex-boyfriend, James Eugene Josey.
It didn’t take long before they were able to develop probable cause and arrest Josey for eight counts of attempted first-degree murder and felony arson. Circuit Judge Ted Borras ordered Josey be held without bond.
The fire was first reported around 5am on October 11th, at a home on West 30th Street in Riviera Beach, Florida. The residents which were inside of the home were Katrina, her boyfriend Antwon Hall, her daughter Breanna and Breanna’s five children, who range in age from two to 13.
Breanna’s ex-boyfriend (Josey) is the father of Breanna’s three eldest children.
Josey was released from prison in February after serving five and one-half years. He was upset because Breanna refused to let him visit their children without supervision by a member of the court.
It is possible that this was his motive for setting the fire.
The Palm Beach Post noted that Josey had spent time in prison off and on since 2008.
“Records show Josey was in state prison for two months in 2008 and 10 months in 2012, and from November 2015 to February of this year, on Palm Beach County convictions that included drug charges, burglary and grand theft, and felony battery.”
Riviera Beach Police announced that during their arson investigation they learned that Josey had texted Breanna and was angered by her request for court supervised visitation.
He sent her another text that said he was “going to get a new set of children.”
Additionally, he texted that he was going to “put a check on her check.” Breanna said she believed it was a threat on her life and that those words alluded to murder.
Reports say that Josey repeatedly called and texted Breanna throughout the weekend. Breanna allegedly ignored all of his attempts at contacting her.
Breanna stated that after midnight on the 11th, Josey texted Breanna requesting a place to stay. She sent back a clear response that he was not welcome at the family home.
Shortly afterward, Josey showed up at the family residence and began banging on the door. Breanna answered the door, saw Josey standing there, and promptly shut and locked the door.
Breanna alleged that Josey began screaming and yelling as he walked down the driveway. Breanna stated that she opened the door when he was far enough away and warned him that if he returned she would call the police, to which Josey replied:
“Your [expletive] mother is going to die, I’m going to be back.”
Breanna said that Josey did returned before 3am and banged on the door again. Breanna claimed that she again told Josey that he was not welcome at the house and to leave. She had hoped that would be the last time he came to the house.
Around 5am, Breanna’s mother, Katrina, stated that she was awakened by something that had crashed through her bedroom window.
“I heard something go, ‘Boom!’ Come through my window. I immediately started screaming.”
Katrina and her boyfriend were both now awake and saw that two devices had landed in their room. Katrina stated that fire, presumably from the devices, rapidly spread throughout the room and approached the foot of her bed.
Katrina, who had lost both of her legs when her ex-husband shot her several years ago, was removed off of the bed by her boyfriend.
“[My boyfriend] grabbed me and was pulling me off the bed. He didn’t even think to grab my [wheel]chair.”
Everyone in the house was able to safely escape the blaze. The fire department responded to the scene and was able to extinguish the flames. Yet, despite their efforts, the house was deemed a total loss.
Police advised that they had located a cellphone in the backyard, which they discovered belonged to Josey.
Officers, accompanied by the fire marshal, combed the area further and found the nozzle belonging to a gas can. After a search of the surrounding area, the suspect was located on Australian Avenue, roughly two miles away from the scene.
When officers made contact with him, they said that he started acting in a “suicidal” manner and tried to hang himself with his clothes. Josey also spat on the responding officers. He was eventually taken into custody and requested a lawyer before any questioning.