Woman accused of setting apartments on fire, spraying lighter fluid

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An increased reward of $20,000 was announced today in the attempted capital murder case of Harris County Precinct 7 Deputy Constable Alden Clopton.

A woman accused of setting fire to her northeast Harris County condo and spraying lighter fluid on her neighbors and around her building is charged with arson.

Several neighbors, including a security guard and former NFL player, tackled Esma Rakic and held her until police arrived.

The two-alarm fire, which affected eight units, happened at the Woodfores Pines Condominiums on Woodforest Boulevard. The Harris County Fire Marshal's Office says the woman set fire to her own first-floor unit and then began spraying lighter fluid around other units, trying to set them on fire.

"She was trying to set people on fire. And when she tried to set them on fire, I came from the back and I tackled her and I put the handcuffs on her," Joshua Richardson said.

Richardson is a security guard, but not for the complex.

"She went from building to building yelling, 'Fire! Fire!' saying she was hearing things, different things like that," explained Chris Doss. "She then went through the buildings, dashing them with lighter fluid. I asked her what is she doing, please stop, then she turned it on me, told me to get away. Then she went to the next building."

Doss was a running back for the Tennessee Titans practice squad in 2000. He was doused with lighter fluid but tackled Rakic with Richardson.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office mental health unit checked out Rakic at the scene and she was "cleared" before she was taken into custody, said Capt. Dean Hensley, who is with the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office.

Hensley could not say why Rakic allegedly set the fires. She is also charged with aggravated assault.
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