LUTZ - Pasco County deputies led Robert Brooks away in hand cuffs Sunday afternoon. They said the 40-year-old set his mother's home on fire with his mother and wife inside. Both women got out, but the home is a total loss.
Neighbor Joseph Espi, couldn't believe the news.
"This is pretty extraordinary at the least," said Espi.
Deputies said they searched for Brooks for four and a half hours after receiving a troubling 911 call from his mother.
"He wanted to speak to his wife. His wife was staying at the home and his mother said no you have to get out of here," said Pasco County Sheriff's Spokesman Doug Tobin.
Investigators said Brook's mother did not want her son going back to jail and violating a restraining order. He bonded out last Thursday after being charged with aggravated domestic assault against his wife.
"We believe at that time he was trying to strangle his wife," said Tobin.
Investigators worked to sort through what happened Sunday morning.
"We believe he broke the window, put the gas can in and poured gas in the living room and then ignited it," said Tobin.
Brooks then took off. The Sheriff's office used a helicopter and K9s to search for him, but it was a deputy on the ground who saw him in a murky canal behind his mother's house.
"He said 'I thought you guys had left. But sure enough as soon as he popped his head out there one of our deputies was able to spot him," said Tobin.
Deputies said Brooks seemed to be under the influence of some sort of substance. He will need medical clearance at Trinity Hospital before being booked into jail.
"I met him a couple of times and they just stayed to themselves," said Espi.
Brooks faces charges including arson, attempted murder and pre-trial violation.
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