Three teens face arson charges following car fires

Three local teens face arson charges for allegedly setting fire to numerous vehicles in Port Charlotte late Sunday night.

The three 18-year-old suspects may also be accused of spray-painting racial slurs and vandalizing vehicles at the Port Charlotte Town Center mall on Sunday night as well, according to Charlotte County Sheriff's spokesman Bob Carpenter.

Corey John Joseph Coomer, of 1411 Dexter Ave., North Port; Kyle Robert Queior, 2888 Wilburn Terrace, in North Port; and Gregory Gonzalez, 1425 O'Donnell Blvd., Murdock, were arrested late Thursday night on four counts of arson.

The arrests stemmed from two anonymous tips to Southwest Florida Crimestoppers.

Both tips named Coomer as a suspect. One of the callers also identified a "Greg" and a "Kyle," according to the Sheriff's Office.

Around 10:40 p.m. Sunday, a woman observed two of the fires behind Jackie's Towing on Veterans Boulevard in Port Charlotte. Firefighters extinguished the blazes. A 1996 Chevrolet pickup and a 1984 sustained major damage.

Twenty minutes later the fire department was called to Hineline Street and Rockcroft Street in Port Charlotte to extinguish a burning 1989 BMW. Palm leaves had been dragged from across the street and thrown on the blaze.

Shortly before midnight, a 1992 Dodge pickup was found burning in the parking lot of Crown Royal Plaza.

The three are accused of spray-painting a racial slur on one of the vehicles before setting it on fire.

Detective Joseph Minervini, of the state Fire Marshal's Office, was called to investigate the fires.

Coomer and Queior gave statements to Deputy Jack Collins on Wednesday.

According to the report, Queior stated he was simply the driver and was not there for the first fire. He also said Gonzalez set fire to the Buick.

Coomer also claimed he had not been there for the first fire. But, Coomer said, the three later bought paint thinner and set the BMW on fire. They then allegedly set the Chevrolet and Dodge on fire, according to the reports.

Gonzalez gave a similar statement.

All three were arrested late Thursday and taken to the Charlotte County Jail, where they were booked on four counts of arson. They were initially held on a $20,000 bond, which was later lowered to $10,000. All three posted bond Friday.

But the three could face additional charges.

Detectives are also investigating a possible tie-in with criminal mischief to two vehicles owned by AVIS Car Rental by Sears at the Port Charlotte Town Center mall that same night. A 2005 Dodge Caravan had a rear window smashed out and a 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer had a racial slur spray painted on a side door.

A Port Charlotte resident, who was at the Regal Cinema in the mall on Sunday night, found his 1999 Lexus SUV had a similar racial slur painted on a side door.

Detectives are still investigating the vehicle fires and the mall vehicle vandalism incidents.

Anyone with information is asked to call Southwest Florida Crimestoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS. Crimestoppers callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

Staff Report