TITUSVILLE, Fla. — A 60-year-old Cocoa man is accused of setting fire to an occupied homeless campsite in woods near the 4200 block of Hopkins Avenue in Titusville on Friday.
- Barrett Bickers denied charges
- Suspect said they "deserved it"
- Fire survivor ID'd Bickers as suspect
A man who was at the campsite survived the fire and identified Barrett Bickers as a suspect. Bickers was arrested Tuesday and charged with arson, attempted murder, and malicious burning of land.
Bickers is being held in the Brevard County Jail without bond.
The Titusville Police Department responded to a large fire at the property at 10.30 p.m. Friday. A homeless person was sleeping at the time but woke up to the sound of leaves crackling from the fire.
"As he was escaping the fire, the victim stated he readily recognized the defendant's voice nearby," an arrest affidavit said. "The victim said the defendant was yelling at him, but he could not understand what was being said. The victim advised he'd known the defendant for approximately one year, and he'd been in contact with the defendant in the weeks leading up to the incident."
It took 600 gallons of water to put out the fire.
Investigators found two containers, both containing gasoline.
"The campsite consisted of a mattress, furniture, personal affects, bicycles, food, and clothing," a police report said. "A green tarp was fashioned into a functional roof, which covered the majority of the aforementioned items, to include the mattress."
Police also interviewed a woman who told police that Bickers warned her to stay away from the campsite because he would "blow them up" and "light them on fire."
She warned three homeless men. They didn't take her seriously and remained at the campground.
Police arrested Bickers on Tuesday for an unrelated matter. They questioned him about the fire. He said he was aware of it.
"The defendant also stated he did not like the male who resided there, who he called 'Ron Bo,' police said. 'Ron Bo was confirmed to be the victim."
The victim's actual name wasn't immediately clear.
Bickers denied setting the fire.
"When confronted about the arson, the defendant denied any involvement, and stated he was never in the area during the night of the fire," the police report said. "He did state, however, that he 'wouldn't be surprised' if someone did do something to the campsite, because the occupants deserved it."