Midway man charged with arson, attempted murder

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By Alice Du Pont

The State Fire Marshal's Office arrested 26-year-old Christopher T. Knight of Midway and charged him with five counts of attempted murder and two counts of arson of a dwelling  Monday.

The charges stem from fires set Sept. 9 and 10. He is in the Leon County Jail, pending return to Gadsden County.

According to a report released by the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office, Knight and his girlfriend Erika Hall, 30, got into a physical altercation the afternoon of Sept. 9 at 355 Sumpter Ridge Dr., where she is temporarily living. Law enforcement officers were called to the scene but no charges were filed.

Hall alleged that Knight told her if she did not come with him, he would return and burn the trailer down.

At approximately 8:20 p.m., resident Latrisha Nelson, 31, told authorities she was lying on the couch when she heard dogs barking outside but each time she went to the window she didn't see anyone. When the inside dogs began barking, Nelson said she looked outside again and saw a man she could not identify riding away from the trailer on a bicycle.

According to the report, Nelson said a few seconds later she smelled smoke and saw fire. Hall informed officers of the altercation and Knight's threat earlier in the day. The fire pattern indicated that a fire accelerant was poured onto the skirting of the mobile home in different places, according to the report.

The homeowner, Willie Wood Jr., said he stored a watered-down gasoline mixture in a gallon jug near the trailer.

At 3:34 a.m. the next morning, Deputy Pamela Anderson was called to the trailer again in reference to a fire. No one was injured in either fire.

"The subject had left the scene but was possibly still in the area," Anderson wrote in her report.

Knight, who was known to ride a bicycle, was seen by Anderson on Central Road, which is near the Sumpter Ridge address of the trailer. According to the report, Knight refused to stop and fled the scene on the bicycle when Anderson attempted to detain him.

Due to the pattern of the fire and the occupied dwelling, the GCSO report was forwarded to the State Fire Marshal's Office. Following that investigation a warrant was issued for Knight.

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