MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade police spent the day Wednesday looking for a woman captured in a surveillance video, calling her a person of interest in connection with three fires started in a Kendall arts and crafts store. Late Wednesday, they said they had found the woman and decided she had no connection to the fire.
Police released a video of a woman seen pushing a stroller into a Kendall Michaels arts and crafts store moments before the store was intentionally set on fire, and called her a “person of interest” in the arson investigation.
The video shows the unidentified woman walk into the store minutes before it was set on fire and it also shows the woman quickly leaving the store.
Police sought help from the media in locating the woman.
However, late Wednesday Miami-Dade police spokesperson Roy Rutland said the woman had been located, and that police no longer believed she had a connection to the fire.
A person claiming to be a family member of the woman, who said the woman simply ran from the store in fear for her safety and the safety of her child, and had been in the store trying to purchase items for the child’s baptism.
Firefighters were called to the store, located at 12425 N. Kendall Drive on Feb. 8th. Police said three different fires were started in the same area of the store by someone using a lighter
Police aren’t sure why she was one of the first to leave the store after the fires were set and that’s why she’s been named a person of interest.
No one was hurt but the fire caused $50,000 in damages.
“This is a case we want to solve and catch the person responsible and bring them to justice,” said Det. Baez.
“Someone could have been seriously hurt,” Baez told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench.
Some customers told D’Oench at the time that they were taking a cake decorating class when the blaze erupted.
“Someone yelled Michaels is on fire and that person shouted, ‘fire, fire’. The teacher of our class ran out and said fire, fire,” said customer Val Schou. She told D’Oench, “I was super nervous and it was scary.”
“Some shouted fire,” said customer Yvette Dillon. “And all of a sudden I saw a lot of people just trampling. It happened in the flower and basket area. Flames were just coming up out of the flowers. It was scary, very scary.”
Customer Susie Potesta of Southwest Miami-Dade told D’Oench, “We were taking a cake decorating clas and we heard a commotion in back and we looked up and saw the flames. They were so high that we could see it from the classroom. I just wanted to get out. There were eight of us in there and we said we need to get out of the room. There was an emergency exit back. We just got out as quick as we could.”
The motive for the arson is unknown, and police are still investigating.
Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.