A woman was in custody after she allegedly set fire to a clubhouse and her own apartment in Pembroke Park Tuesday morning.
The incident happened at the Pembroke Gardens Apartments in the area of the 3700 block of Southwest 52nd Avenue.
A maintenance worker told NBC 6 he saw the woman toss two incendiary devices into the clubhouse office, devices which he described as being like Molotov cocktails, bottles filled with oil which she lit on fire. Other witnesses said she then went back to her apartment and torched that as well, all with her little boy watching.
Why would anyone do such a thing? The workers at the complex said her utilities had been cut off so she might have feared eviction. The neighborhood philosophers weighed in on what happened.
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“She needs some kind mental health because nobody in their right mind would do that, nobody,” said Shirley Nelson, a neighbor. “It is very sad, I don’t know her like that and I tell you the truth, I feel for her, I’m very sorry for her.”
“I think she should be in prison, are you crazy? She took her son and did this in front of him, she jeopardized other peoples’ lives,” said another neighbor, Lisa Marie. “She was a calm woman, she used to walk the neighborhood and talk to everybody, we never thought she was this violent.”
“It freaked me out, it freaked me out, I live right there,” said Magdalen Chastau, pointing to a unit close to the burned apartment. “I guess she’s crazy, because she probably went mad, I feel very sorry for the little boy.”
Broward Sheriff's Office officials gave few details, only confirming that they were investigating a suspected arson at the complex and that a woman was in custody.
Both fires were extinguished and no injuries were reported. The incident remained under investigation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says depression, anxiety, and other adverse mental health issues have significantly increased during the pandemic, especially among people facing financial stress.
“I get eviction, I don’t have nowhere to go, you know, so nobody knows, we can’t judge her,” Nelson said.
The criminal justice system will certainly judge her. She’s in custody, but as of this writing, BSO has not filed any charges against the woman.
If you or anyone you know needs mental health services, you can call 211 for free help, day or night.