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2 Tampa men, teen charged with arson, attempted murder

TAMPA — Authorities charged two Tampa men and a 16-year-old male with arson and attempted second-degree murder Tuesday, a day after a fire sent nine people, including two children, running for their lives.

Abdiel Omar Gonzalez-Ramos, 22, and Luis Manuel Hernandez, 25, were arrested at 3808 22nd St. N and booked into the Orient Road Jail. Both men admitted the crime, police said.

The teenager was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

Monday's fire at 1202 E Columbus Drive was labeled arson by investigators after flames spread from a backyard shed to the single-story house where nine family members were staying.

"Some folks who live in the house were in a fight with some family of the two arrested," said Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Bill Wade. "The arson was retribution."

Wade said officers believe the men hoped the home would burn to the ground.

"Investigators believe full well that the suspects knew that people inside the house could be seriously injured or die as a result of the early-morning fire," Wade said.

Hernandez, who said he works as a painter for Daniels Cleaning, spent three years in prison after a shooting in which no one was hurt, according to Florida Department of Corrections records.

Since being released in 2005, he has been arrested twice on charges of shooting a gun in a building and for possessing a firearm as a felon, county jail records show. He also was fined on a charge of improper animal confinement in 2006, a county court file states.

Police say Hernandez is a member of the Latin Kings street gang and goes by the name of "King Lulu." Gonzalez-Ramos is not a gang member, according to an arrest report.

Gonzalez-Ramos, a former janitor at International Plaza, told police he works at the Columbia Restaurant.

Drew Harwell can be reached at dharwell@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3386.

2 Tampa men, teen charged with arson, attempted murder 03/10/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 12:02am]
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