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The Bizarre World of Florida

Man accused of baseball bat beatings sets self on fire September 17, 2012

Columbia County sheriff’s deputies responding to a reported disturbance at a Lake City residence say they arrived to find a man “engulfed in flames” after apparently setting himself on fire.

Prior to setting himself ablaze, the man allegedly attacked two people with a baseball bat, deputies said.

Robert Drew Manson, 49, was arrested Thursday night and charged with two counts of aggravated battery, according to a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office release.

Deputies responded around 11:15 p.m. to a residence on Southeast Margaret Street after someone in the residence called 911, the release said. Manson shares the residence with his girlfriend and another man. When deputies drove up, they reported finding Manson on fire in the front yard.

“His shirt was on fire. His hair was on fire,” CCSO Sgt. Edward Seifert said. “He was walking around in circles and trying to take his shirt off.”

Before he lit himself up, Manson attacked both people in the house with a baseball bat for unknown reasons, the release said.

He hit his girlfriend in the body, possibly breaking her arm, deputies said, adding that Manson attacked the man while the man slept, hitting his neck and face.

When deputies arrived, they put Manson on the ground and rolled him around to extinguish the flames.

Both victims were treated by rescue workers for non-life threatening injuries, the release said, and Manson was transported to Shands at the University of Florida. Deputies said they found the bat in the house and a lighter and a bottle of lighter fluid at the scene.

Manson’s current condition is unknown, the release said, but when he recovers from his injuries, he’ll be transferred to the Columbia County jail.

“It’s quite an usual situation to see a man in the front yard on fire,” Seifert said, “but deputies  acted quickly and put the fire out.”

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