Police: Lake City man killed in Daytona Beach van fire had history of mental health issues

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A man with a history of mental health issues and making threats towards law enforcement died Wednesday morning after his van caught fire in the Daytona Beach Police Department’s parking lot, our sister station WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando reports.

Police say video shows the van pulling into the parking lot early Wednesday morning before it ignited.

Daytona Beach Deputy Police Chief Jennifer Whittet says they’re familiar with the man, who had a home in Lake City, but lived out of his van in Daytona.

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Whittet said he’s been Baker Acted at least three times in the past.

The Volusia County Bomb squad was called to assist in blocking off the police department’s front parking lot where the van and the man inside it caught fire.

“This vehicle pulls in for about two minute and stops,” Whittet said. “Then the vehicle just lights up in fire.”

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Police say they heard an explosion they believed was the van’s tire popping, then saw the 55-year-old Lake City man exit covered in flames, collapse, and die.

Police don’t believe any mechanical issues are to blame for the fire, and no explosives were found on the man or in the van.

However, firefighters did find an unknown liquid inside a plastic container.

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“All the mirrors, windows, everything was melted down,” Whittet said. “Barely anything you could tell what was left in the vehicle, besides ash.”

Police say the man had mental health issues, and made threats in the past to blow up the police department and the FBI building in Jacksonville.

“He had a run-in with his neighbors, and I don’t know if he thought he wasn’t getting the help he was looking for from police,” Whittet said.

Officers say the man’s sister called Columbia County deputies to a well-being check just days before the fire.

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“We don’t know if he intended to do what he did or intended to cause harm to anybody else,” Whittet said.

Police say they’re still waiting for a formal identification of the man. So far, they’re basing his identify on the information in the van’s registration.

FBI Jacksonville sent Action News Jax the following statement:

“The FBI Jacksonville Daytona Beach Resident Agency is in contact with the DBPD and providing further assistance as needed in their ongoing investigation. No further details can be confirmed at this time pending confirmation of the identity of the deceased individual. We defer to DBPD for further updates.”

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