Around 11:45 Tuesday night, a Port St. Lucie man noticed from his driveway something suspicious across the street at Jessica Clinton Park.
"Noticed a young kid carrying something through the front of the park, it seemed a little odd to see a young guy out that late at night so I kept an eye on him. Next thing I know it looks like he poured something out of it and lit something on fire," he said.
That something was gasoline poured on a pile of mulch, outside of a utility shed. As the Good Samaritan, who did not want to be identified, called police, he watched as the kid moved on to another part of the park.
"The boy then came to a rope Jungle Gym and tried to light it on fire, but the rope did not burn.
The neighbor hid behind the shed and as the boy walked past, he went up behind him, told him to stop, and get on the ground.
"I asked him what he was doing and he said he was trying to win a bet from his friends and when I asked him what kind of bet he was trying to win or what he was doing he said he was trying to win respect from his friends. So I told him if those are the kinds of friends you have, you need to find better friends," the neighbor said.
The boy told police he sneaked out of his house, saw the gas can outside the shed, then returned home to get a lighter and a bread knife.
"Had the neighbor not intervened here, we don't know what would have happened, if the park would have entirely burned down or if this individual would have tried to set something else on fire to the park," Port St. Luice Police spokesman Tom Nichols said.
The neighbor said he's no hero, and hopes the kid learned a lesson. "He seemed very afraid, especially when he was put in handcuffs and thrown in the back of the car, he was pretty much crying immediately."
The boy told police he didn't really know why he did it, but he wanted to go back to school with a good story to tell his friends. He certainly has a story, but he may not want to share it.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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