At house fire, man tells ABC 7 News crew: 'I set it on fire'
Editor's note: Fire investigators on Thursday identified the man who confessed on camera as Carlos I. Peralta, 27, of Horners Lane in Rockville and charged him with first degree arson and three counts of reckless endangerment.
ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - A man on the scene of a roaring house fire approached an ABC7 News crew Wednesday and confessed to setting the home ablaze.
"Me! Me! I set it on fire," said the young adult man, who would only identify himself as, "Carlos."
While firefighters lugged water hoses and aluminum ladders to the burning structure along the 300 block of Horners Lane in Rockville, "Carlos" remained calm and relaxed. He candidly answered a string of questions with an ABC7 News microphone and camera recording in plain sight.
Question #1: "How did you do it?"
"I just poured gasoline on the floor, set it on fire, went to grab a drink, and came back," "Carlos" remarked without batting an eye.
Question #2: "How did setting this fire help you?"
"Just so you [the media] could get here for your attention," "Carlos" added.
The self-proclaimed arsonist went on to describe, what he considered to be, deplorable living conditions inside the home he says he torched. Police say "Carlos" was one of six people living inside the two-story structure.
Question #3: "Why didn't you report the alleged deplorable conditions to police first?"
"I did. I did," "Carlos" replied, adding no one took his complaints seriously.
Following his on-camera bombshell revelation, "Carlos" walked-up to two Rockville police officers, saying, "I set the house on fire." A look of astonishment came over both officers' faces.
Despite his honesty and sincerity, police put "Carlos" in handcuffs and escorted him to a nearby squad car. He was promptly taken to the Rockville Police Department for questioning.
"Oh my goodness! That is not a story I want to hear," neighbor Linda Ekizian remarked. "Oh my goodness! What a waste. What a total waste."
Ekizian was working at her downtown Rockville office, located about half a mile away, when she saw heavy smoke pouring from her neighborhood. Ekizian says it's common for police cars to be outside the home "Carlos" lives in. However, fire engines and ladder trucks are a first.
"I'm just thinking about all of the firefighters whose lives were put in jeopardy because of this. There's no excuse for it, none at all," Ekizian added.
Although "Carlos" provided ABC7 News with an unsolicited street-side admission, detectives say he went quiet at the police station, requesting a defense attorney to speak on his behalf. Police later arrested and charged him. They are calling ABC 7's on-camera interview a crucial piece of evidence, and have requested a raw copy of the clip.
No one was injured in the Wednesday afternoon fire. The two-story home, however, is most likely a total loss. Damage is expected to top $400,000.