Florida CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Arrest of Two Lake Butler Men Charged with Arson, Armed Robbery, Petty Theft and Armed Burglary
Contact: Alexis Lambert or Deborah Cox
TALLAHASSEE—Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater today announced the arrest of Davario Watkins and Michael Stitt of Lake Butler, after investigations led by the State Fire Marshal’s Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations (BFAI) working with the Union County Sheriff's office (UCSO), and the Lake Butler Volunteer Fire Department (LBVFD) determined that they were responsible for three intentionally set fires in Union County.
“Arson terrorizes communities and puts innocent lives in harm’s way,” CFO Atwater said. “I applaud the work of the arson investigators in my State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Union County Sheriff's office, and the Lake Butler Volunteer Fire Department for putting a stop to this string of crimes.”
Between November 17, 2011 and November 30, 2011, there were fires at a storage building at the City of Lake Butler Water Treatment Facility at 410 SW 11th St., a vacant residential structure at 110 SE 5th Ave. and a public restroom within a community park at 155 N. W. 3rd St. all located in Lake Butler. Investigations revealed that all three fires were arson.
On March 23, 2012, the UCSO arrested Watkins for armed robbery. Watkins confessed to involvement in setting the 2011 fires. Watkins was booked into the Union County Jail and charged with three counts of first degree arson, armed robbery, two counts of petty theft, aggravated battery, armed burglary and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. If convicted on all charges, Watkins could face up to 171 years in prison.
On April 4, 2012, Stitt was arrested and booked into the Union County Jail. Stitt was charged with first degree arson, armed robbery, two counts of petty theft and armed burglary. If convicted on all charges, Stitt could face up to 91 years in prison.
To report arson, call 1-877-No-Arson (1-877-662-7766). A reward of up to $5,000 may be paid for a tip that leads directly to an arrest and conviction.
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.