Tampa?s Homicide Arson Unit Arrest Second Suspect in String of VM Ybor Fires

This notice is archived content and this information may no longer be accurate.

The Defendant is Suspected of Setting Five Other Ybor Fires
Video of the suspect before and after he set a home on Columbus Drive on fire is available at:


In a news conference, Mayor Bob Buckhorn praised the joint efforts between Tampa Fire Rescue Investigators and Tampa Police Detectives

DATE OF ARREST: May 23, 2011, 8:45 p.m.

LOCATION OF ARREST: 2909 East 23rd Avenue, Tampa

SUSPECT: Reginald Gray, B/M, DOB: 06/25/1953, 2909 East 23rd Avenue, Tampa

CHARGES: Two Counts First Degree Arson

DETAILS: The suspect was captured on video leaving 1713 East Columbus Drive using his walker on May 21st at 5:15 p.m. The footage shows him coming from the rear of the house as smoke is billowing out of the vacant home. A short time later, the home was fully engulfed in flames. The fire spread to the house next door that was also vacant. A witness from the scene identified the suspect. Investigators quickly tracked down the suspect and questioned him about the fire. He admitted to setting the weekend blaze. He is a suspect in five other Ybor City fires.

This is the second arrest in the 19 VM Ybor fires. Tampa Police detectives arrested Kenneth Bryan Smith on July 9, 2010 in Chicago on one count of First Degree Arson. He was charged with setting fire to a vacant home at 1412 East 21st Avenue. Smith is a suspect in eight additional Ybor fires. The Ybor fires stopped after his arrest until this weekend’s arson.

On January 2, 2011, the City of Tampa merged Tampa Fire Rescue’s Arson Team with the Tampa Police Department’s Homicide Squad to create a cutting edge squad of investigators. The unit combines Tampa Fire Rescue’s fire science expertise with the Tampa Police Department’s investigative expertise.

Tampa’s Homicide Arson Unit
• Created January 2, 2011
• 56% Arson Clearance Rate – National Average 18%
• In the first four months of 2011, new unit worked 36 Arsons with 20 cleared
• All Homicide Detectives attended fire science school
• All Arson Investigators enhancing interview techniques, methods for identifying suspects and other investigative techniques