Tuesday morning, August 9th, Historic City News was informed by a passing reader that St Augustine police had cordoned off the Mark Lance Armory, located at 190 San Marco Avenue. Originally reported as a burglary, it was later determined that an attempted arson had occurred.
Police determined that at least one unknown person had entered the fenced motor pool area of the armory near the north facing entry gate; and, based on scuff marks and foot prints observed, exited the compound near the southwest corner.
According to statements taken by police during their canvass for leads, the intrusion was first discovered by Sergeant Gregory Giesecke at about 8:00 a.m. when he went to the motor pool to move one of the vehicles.
Giesecke notified his command and the St Augustine Police Department that he found burned material inside the fenced compound as well as on top of the wall and outside of the compound. He told police that while moving one of the vehicles, he observed something hanging from the gas tank of a parked Humvee.
At about 5:00 p.m. the night before, another employee checked the motor pool area and secured the gate. She told police that she did not observe any suspicious activity at that time.
Police Officer Michael Brickey reported that he also observed something hanging from a camouflaged diesel Humvee which was secured behind the compound walls of the armory. The fuel cap was hanging down the side of the truck. The object extended down the side of the Humvee and rested under the truck, but he did not observe any seared edges to the undisclosed object.
“While walking through the compound, I observed a glass bottle lying on the ground near the southwest corner within the interior walls of the armory compound,” Brickey reported. “The bottle was mostly intact.”
Brickey also reported seeing an additional broken bottle on the top of the wall as well as detecting a strong odor of gasoline where the broken bottles were located.
During a walk around the exterior of the compound walls, Brickey observed black burn marks to the southwest corner. The ground appeared to be disturbed; consistent with foot traffic on the exposed dirt.
Police Corporal Niederriter was notified of the incident and responded to the scene, as well as the St Augustine Fire Marshal and State of Florida Fire Marshal. The crime scene was turned over to the State Fire Marshal for processing and further investigation, which is ongoing.