A Lakeland man is facing felony arson charges after being accused of setting his ex-girlfriend’s vehicle on fire inside her garage
On Tuesday, the Winter Haven Police and Fire departments responded to a 3 a.m. call regarding an attached garage on fire at 654 Ave. O SE.
Williams and her parents — Traci and Theodore Williams — were asleep inside the home when they discovered her white Scion engulfed in flames next to her parents’ vehicle, according to a Winter Haven Police Department affidavit.
The Williams family was unhurt during the fire, said police spokeswoman Jamie Brown.
“We thank goodness for that because things could’ve gone a lot worse,” Brown said.
Property and vehicle damage is estimated to be $60,000.
Williams ended a six-year relationship with Carter in January and had obtained a temporary injunction for protection against him.
In the week prior to the car fire, Carter had repeatedly violated the injunction by texting Williams, the police report said. On Saturday, Williams found a burnt area on her front lawn.
After initially denying any involvement, Carter admitted to setting the car fire during an interview Wednesday with Winter Haven detectives about his injunction violations.
According to the affidavit, Carter originally said he placed papers and oil on the Scion’s hood and ignited it. However, Carter changed his statement while being readied for transport to the Polk County Jail.
Carter told detectives he drove from Lakeland to Winter Haven in the early morning hours Tuesday and filled a plastic water bottle with a mixture of water and gasoline. According to the affidavit, his goal was to create a large smoke cloud near the house that would scare Williams and her family.
Instead, the mixture ignited and Carter — unable to hold the bottle — threw it into the garage. He drove back to his Lakeland home and waited for the police to arrest him.
“I let everyone down,” Carter said at the end of his revised statement, according to the affidavit. “My life is over … I am going to prison for a long time.”
Carter has been booked into the Polk County Jail on first-degree felony charges of arson and burglary of a structure with damage. He also faces third-degree felony charges of domestic violence-aggravated stalking after injunction.