Would-be arsonist rams truck into Macon store, attempts to set it on fire

Robbers hit Fusion Point on Mercer University Drive twice in July and twice before that, earlier in the year. But an incident that occurred there Saturday morning has owners scratching their heads.

“We want to catch this guy,” said Carol Lee, who owns the store with her husband.

But she doesn’t know who could have done it. “We don’t know of any enemies we have,” she said.

At around 6 a.m. Saturday morning, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office responded to an alarm that went off at the electronics store. A deputy arrived at the scene and found a 1993 GMC Sierra pickup crashed through the front of the store, according to a Bibb County Sheriff’s Office report. Those responsible had fled the scene leaving the truck.

Someone unsuccessfully attempted to set the truck on fire before the deputy arrived, putting a rag into the gas tank and setting it aflame, according to Capt. Mike Smallwood. Fortunately, the tank did not ignite.

The failed arsonist stuffed the rag in too tight, cutting out the flames’ oxygen supply, Lee said an official told her — so the truck’s gas tank did not catch fire.

“Once we make an arrest, they will be charged with attempted arson,” Smallwood said.

Nothing in the store was stolen — except the truck. Earlier Saturday morning another alarm went off, this time at 3915 Atwood Drive, according to the report.

Randy Brown told deputies that his carport’s audible alarm sounded at about 5 a.m., but he did not get up to check it.

He told the authorities he had no idea his truck, a 1993 GMC pickup, had been removed from his carport.

His truck has since been returned to Brown’s house, according to the report.

The sheriff’s office doesn’t have any suspects in the case, Smallwood said.

He said the would-be arsonist could be a dissatisfied customer seeking revenge or it could be old robbers causing more trouble.

“You never count it out,” he said. “You don’t know at this point. That is why we’re checking out some people.”

Smallwood said investigators were also looking into people who live near where the truck was stolen.

There wasn’t any video footage of the driver because the only outdoor surveillance camera was being repaired, Lee said.

On July 7, three men using crowbars stole several flat-screen TVs, valued at $12,396, from the front wall display, according to a sheriff’s office report.

On July 14, another flat-screen TV, valued at $1,699 was taken.

The store is still up and running.

“As far as deterring us from doing business, it hasn’t,” said Lee’s husband, Leland. “It doesn’t make us feel good about being in this location, particularly.”

He said he and his wife may eventually consider relocating their business, but right now they’re still trying to understand what happened.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said.

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report. To contact writer Eric Newcomer, call 744-4494.