Sunday, June 17, 2018
Public safety

Police shoot St. Petersburg man they say set fire to home

ST. PETERSBURG — Paul Allen Sibley has experienced a series of misfortunes in the past decade.

His wife, Susan W. Sibley, died at the age of 57 in 2005. A few years later, he lost his job.

Then in December, Sibley's house was foreclosed. He had recently received an eviction notice to move out of the 840-square-foot home at 494 44th Ave N.

Instead, Sibley, 69, set the house on fire, St. Petersburg police said.

The home was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. As they began to extinguish the blaze, a neighbor noticed Sibley standing in her back yard holding a semiautomatic handgun and several containers of ammunition. He fired at least one round at officers, police said.

SWAT team members arrived while firefighters tried to control the blaze by spraying water from a distance. About 3:15 a.m., Sibley raised his gun at the swarm of officers. They fired and struck Sibley in an arm and a leg, police said. He was treated at the scene by paramedics and taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Sibley left a note on a nearby fire hydrant in which he admitted to starting the fire, according to an arrest affidavit. Police also found another note on a car parked in front of the burning house that said there were explosives inside, though none were found.

"About 4 o'clock in the morning I heard a bunch of shots," said neighbor Trish Langan, who added she could see the flames from her house a block away. "I stood outside my front yard and it was a wall of heat. It was crazy."

After his arrest, about two dozen firefighters extinguished the remaining flames within an hour.

The three officers who discharged their guns were Bradley Bryan, 48; Robert Peters, 42; and Matthew Hansell, 41. They will be placed on administrative leave pending a review of the shooting, police said.

Sibley faces several charges, including first-degree arson, two counts of attempted murder of an officer, and two counts of aggravated assault on an officer, jail records show.

He has never been arrested before in Florida, according to state records.

On Sunday morning, smoke wafted from the burnt remains of the home. A charred car stood under the blackened frame of a car port.

Sibley's neighbors describe him as a quiet man who often offered neighbors rides to work or a hand with landscaping.

"That is the type of person he is," neighbor Michael Burnett said.

Sibley lived alone in the house that property records show he purchased in 2000. He had been married for 25 years. Before his wife's death, the couple worked together in the cafeteria at Florida Blood Services, now called OneBlood Inc.

"We knew that he was in financial trouble because he had lost his job a couple years ago," Burnett said, adding the house "was the last thing he had in the world."

The current owner of the home is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, records show.

Before the fire, Sibley, dropped off bicycle parts outside Burnett's home. Sibley and Burnett's 17-year-old step-daughter used to repair bikes together.

"He just has a heart of gold," Burnett said.

Sibley was booked into the Pinellas County Jail, where he remained Sunday without bail.

Times staff researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Contact Laura C. Morel at [email protected] or (727)445-4157. On Twitter: @lauracmorel.

Comments
Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

ST. PETERSBURG — Mazzaro’s Italian Market will be closed throughout the weekend after a warehouse fire broke out Friday.A St. Petersburg Police officer noticed smoke coming from the market at 22nd Ave. N around midnight Friday, said St. Petersburg F...
Updated: 9 hours ago
A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

TAMPA — Loueita Hargens had known for years how her son Bradley Dykes would die. She had seen him cycle through drugs of choice, had lost track of the number of times he’d wound up in the hospital or prison.A recovering alcoholic herself, she cut him...
Updated: 10 hours ago
St. Petersburg police make arrest 31 years after sexual assault

St. Petersburg police make arrest 31 years after sexual assault

ST. PETERSBURG — Police arrested a man Friday in connection with a 31-year-old sexual assault case and believe he’s connected to other unsolved cases from decades ago.Anthony Stokes, 56, faces a charge of armed sexual battery, according to St. Peters...
Published: 06/15/18
Records detail Wrigley heir’s $480,000 betrayal by trusted employees

Records detail Wrigley heir’s $480,000 betrayal by trusted employees

ODESSA — One day in the summer of 2014, Helen Rich spotted a Facebook post about an aging black Labrador in Kansas named Lady who badly needed a new home. The author and heir to the Wrigley gum fortune had recently lost her own Black lab. Rich decide...
Published: 06/15/18
Hillsborough Hispanic women targeted in lottery scam

Hillsborough Hispanic women targeted in lottery scam

TAMPA — Maria Pena-Lebron, 83, was walking out of Fresco y Mas with her groceries in May when she was approached by a woman wearing a straw hat, who pleaded with her for help. The stranger claimed to be an undocumented immigrant and therefore unable ...
Published: 06/15/18
Tampa fire captain demoted for stripping off shirt, daring homeless man to fight

Tampa fire captain demoted for stripping off shirt, daring homeless man to fight

TAMPA — Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Jeremy Finney was, by all accounts, a model firefighter — until he lost his cool. The outburst cost him two ranks.Finney has served nearly 16 years in the department and was a member of the Tactical Medical Response Te...
Published: 06/15/18
Coaster that derailed in Daytona Beach had reported safety issues in 2017

Coaster that derailed in Daytona Beach had reported safety issues in 2017

DAYTONA BEACH — Two roller coaster riders fell 34 feet (10 meters) when their car derailed and was left dangling from the track, and firefighters used ladders to pull eight others to safety high above the Daytona Beach Boardwalk. "The front car which...
Published: 06/15/18
Largo man accused of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend’s toddler

Largo man accused of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend’s toddler

A Largo man is facing kidnapping and attempted murder charges after authorities say he took his ex-girlfriend’s 2-year-old child last weekend and rammed another man’s car to get away.Johnny A. Wise, 27, was arrested late Thursday on Williams Drive ne...
Published: 06/15/18
Charges dropped against two UCF fraternity members accused of rape

Charges dropped against two UCF fraternity members accused of rape

ORLANDO — Prosecutors have dropped charges against two University of Central Florida students — one of whom is from Hillsborough County — who were accused of raping a woman at a fraternity party.The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Orange-Osceola St...
Published: 06/15/18
2 killed when vehicle struck by train in Polk County

2 killed when vehicle struck by train in Polk County

FROSTPROOF — Two people were killed when their vehicle was struck by a train early Friday morning.Polk County deputies say the crash occurred on westbound U.S. 98 near Western Avenue just after 3 a.m.Westbound lanes on U.S. 98 are expected to be clo...
Published: 06/15/18