A Bradenton man has been indicted on federal charges, including arson, after allegedly admitting to setting fire to his boss’ truck.
Henry Blain Howard, 47, has been formally charged with arson, possessing an unregistered destructive device, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, according to United States Attorney’s Office.
The Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office responded on June 20 to a firebombing in the parking lot of Days Inn, 3506 First St. W., Bradenton, after a 2006 Dodge truck was damaged.
Surveillance footage showed a male driver of a vehicle parked nearby approached the truck then returned to his vehicle and drove away. The truck then exploded in flames, according to the criminal complaint.
Investigators spoke in October with Howard’s girlfriend, who said she was with Howard in the hotel parking lot and watched him set fire to the truck by placing a molotov cocktail — a combination of a plastic bottle, gasoline and cloth wick — in the wheel well.
When the pulled away, the woman said she heard a “boom” and saw fire and smoke, according to the complaint.
When investigators spoke with Howard at the Manatee County Jail, Howard said the firebombed truck belonged to his employer and that his vehicle was the one parked nearby.
Howard said he was at the hotel to purchase methamphetamine. He said he left $100 on top of the truck’s front tire, where drugs had been left for him.
Investigators asked if he set fire to the truck.
“I am not saying I did, and I am not saying I didn’t, because I was high on meth at the time,” Howard said, according to the complaint.
In a recorded jail phone call, Howard is heard saying: “That b—- helped me light the f—— fuse. We set fire to the truck,” the complaint states.
Howard’s brother told investigators on Oct. 15 that Howard wanted to speak with them.
Howard reportedly admitted to setting fire to his employer’s truck.
He also admitted to having his wife buy him a gun and buying a gun from a private party.
Howard has previously been convicted of armed robbery, principal to robbery with a firearm and robbery. Convicted felons are prohibited from owning firearms.
If Howard is convicted of the four charges for which he has been indicted, he faces up to 50 years in federal prison.
This arson case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Assistant United State Attorney Carlton Gammons is prosecuting the case.