Liquor store arson suspect arrested after returning to shop

November 30, 2012 6:57:30 AM PST
An accused arsonist is in jail because he returned to the scene of the fire, thinking no one would recognize him. But two quick-thinking clerks did, and what they did next led investigators straight to the wanted man.

Michael Fuller, 19, was booked into the Harris County Jail on a charge of arson, thanks to two store clerks. The arresting deputy told them it was the easiest arrest he's made.

Fuller went into Zell's Liquor looking for cigarettes and a soda and left in handcuffs -- not for something he did on Thursday, but for what he's accused of doing three weeks ago.

"When he was walking around the store, that's when I said, 'Man, that's the guy,'" store manager Leonce Cormier said.

Cormier has had the wanted poster hanging up since it was released. On it is the man believed to have started a fire behind the store on November 8.

"He just set everything on fire, the whole wall, everything," Cormier said.

Surveillance video from next door shows the suspect just seconds before the arson, and the still shot allowed Cormier a good look.

"I recognized him immediately," Cormier said.

So when the young man walked in Thursday, Cormier and another clerk knew they had to do something.

First they confronted him.

"He said he's sorry and he said he'll come and help clean up," Cormier said.

Then they took him up on his offer, taking him to clean up the ash from the fire in the back of the store while they called police.

The plan worked.

From the back of a patrol car, Fuller blamed his actions on drugs but was remorseful.

"If I did it, my bad and I'm sorry for doing it," he told us.

Meanwhile, Cormier was looking forward to removing the poster.

"I feel good, because if I'm a man of the community then I should be able to protect the community," he said.

Although Cormier says he was fulfilling his civic duty, he and the other store clerk could be eligible for the $5,000 Crime Stoppers reward.


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