Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man armed with shotgun in burning home when help arrived

Firefighters work to put out the fire at 115 W. Sligh Ave. Homeowner Eddie Carl Jones, 59, was found unconscious inside.

Rodney BiddlE | Special to the Times

Firefighters work to put out the fire at 115 W. Sligh Ave. Homeowner Eddie Carl Jones, 59, was found unconscious inside.

TAMPA — When Rodney Biddle saw smoke pouring out of a small Sligh Avenue home Monday morning, he pulled over and armed himself with a garden hose.

Little did he know, the owner of the home was armed with something else.

Police haven't said why Eddie Carl Jones, 59, answered the door to his burning home with a shotgun or how the fire started. But some of Jones' neighbors noted months of strange behavior and a tumultuous relationship with an exotic dancer.

According to Tampa Fire Rescue, at about 8:30 a.m. Monday, two police cruisers drove by the burning home at 115 W Sligh Ave., and pulled over to help. Biddle, who had been on the way to an appointment, was dousing smoldering scrap wood in the garage.

The officers banged on the front door. Jones answered, and through thick black smoke, police saw him clutching a shotgun.

"They yelled 'shotgun,' and we all scurried like a bunch of roaches when the lights come on," Biddle said. "I was right there trying to put the fire out. There was a piece of glass between us."

Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Bill Wade said Jones called for help soon after. When firefighters arrived, one dove through a window and found Jones unconscious. He was taken in serious condition to St. Joseph's Hospital, and the fire was put out in about 20 minutes.

Later Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said information on Jones was not available. He hasn't been charged with a crime, and an investigation is ongoing. Jones has no criminal record in Florida.

His neighbors stood outside for hours watching responders secure the scene. They told stories of a friendly man with a problematic personal life. They recalled loud fights between Jones and his girlfriend in the front yard and an incident at Lowry Park Zoo.

According to Tampa police records, Melissa Ann Santos, 28, reported Jones missing on May 25. Santos told police she was Jones' ex-girlfriend, that they just broke up, and that Jones threatened to kill himself by taking Xanax and driving down the road.

Later that day, a Lowry Park visitor called police about a man slumped over the steering wheel of a blue Jeep in the zoo parking lot, records state. The caller noticed the man around 1:30 p.m. and called police when he walked past him again about 7 p.m. Responders found Jones unresponsive and took him to a hospital.

Though Santos, the ex-girlfriend, warned police Jones could be armed with a rifle, police found no gun. He was not charged with a crime. Santos, who has a record of drug and battery charges, could not be reached for comment.

The most recent address listed for Santos, according to jail records from her last arrest in July, was Jones' home on Sligh. Santos was charged with domestic violence battery, possession of drug paraphernalia, bringing contraband into jail and possession of a controlled substance — Xanax. According to an arrest affidavit, she bit Jones on the face during an argument.

Jones teaches photography at Learey Technical School, 5410 N 20th St. A representative from the school declined to comment.

Daniel Gonzalez, who works at the city of Tampa special events office across from Jones' house, said he'd noticed a difference in his neighbor over the last few months.

Jones used to go on walks every day with hand weights — he now comes outside less and less. Jones used to "maintain his yard with a fine-tooth comb" — but tall grass and weeds now impede blue flowers planted outside. Sometimes, newspapers pile in his driveway for days.

"He's a super nice guy," Gonzalez said. "I just hope he's OK."

Gonzalez said Jones has two cats, but authorities found no animals inside.

A damage estimate was not available. One firefighter, Rush Roberts of Sulphur Springs Engine 11, was taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this story. Kim Wilmath can be reached at kwilmath@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3386.

Man armed with shotgun in burning home when help arrived 09/22/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 22, 2008 11:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility

    World

    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia

    World

    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber

    World

    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]