Courtesy of the Miami Herald
A feud between a co-op association and a resident at a
North Beach co-op building took a dramatic turn early on New Year's Day when the
man attempted to set the building on fire, police said.
The man, Mario Lara, 63, was also carrying a gun and shot
at two men who attempted to stop him, according to the Miami Beach police
According to the report:
The two men, Roy Roche and Steve Pickett, saw Lara leave
the two-story building, located on the 400 block of 80th Street, about 4 a.m.
carrying a can of gasoline, which he used to douse the back wall and set it on
When they yelled at Lara to stop, he pulled a .22-caliber
revolver and shot twice at them. Pickett and Roche ran inside, hid in an
apartment and called police.
When police arrived, Lara surrendered, according to the
''Officer, I did it . . . I am turning myself in to you,''
he is quoted as saying. ``The gun is in my left pocket. I did this because they
want to take my apartment from me.''
The fire department managed to extinguish the blaze before
it spread to the rest of the building, though an unknown amount of damage was
Lara, who had facial burns and singed hair, was arrested
and charged with arson and attempted murder.
Residents say the dispute between Lara and the co-op
association sprouted from disagreements over maintenance to the building and a
rise in building fees. Liens had been placed on several apartments after higher
fees were implemented, said unit owner Elena Felix.
Members of the co-op board declined to comment.
Felix said she sympathized with Lara. ''One year ago, they
doubled the maintenance, and thank God I can pay, but other people can't,'' she
said. ``I'm sure they drove him crazy and he just went berserk.''