Brooksville man arrested for setting neighbor's home on fire while she was inside sleeping

A Brooksville man is behind bars after deputies say he confessed to setting his neighbor's mobile home on fire. 
 
"First I heard a big bang," Jim Bohnenberger said.
 
It was around 3 a.m. Monday. 
 
Bohnenberger decided to stick his head outside to see what was going on, but smoke enveloped the entire street. 
 
"Then I saw the fire engine, another fire engine and six cop cars," he described.
 
They were all headed to 14204 Edmonds St., the home of Bohnenberger's long-time neighbor, Laurie Davis.
 
"This is where it started," Davis said.
 
Her mobile home is now charred from roof to floor. The smoky smell seeped into every nook and cranny.
 
Monday morning, Davis was fast asleep inside when deputies said her neighbor Axel Kotowski set her home on fire.
 
According to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, Kotowski had complained to the subdivision's homeowners association numerous times about the condition of Davis' property. He is currently trying to sell his home and allegedly feared his neighbor's home was bringing down his property's value.
 
But Davis gives another explanation. She thinks this feud all stems from approximately one year ago when she refused to be his girlfriend.
 
"I didn't return the love," Davis said. "So it was kind of a broken-hearted thing, I think."
 
When Davis woke up, smoke was filling her living room. She ran outside and says she saw Kotowski standing in the ash. 
 
"It was like meeting a grizzly bear because he didn't expect me to come up. He expected me to die in a fire," Davis said.
 
According to his arrest affidavit, Kotowski confirmed he started the fire and then retreated back to his home to grab a fire extinguisher, but it had no effect on the growing flames. He reportedly told deputies he was only "trying to scare" Davis. 
 
The State Fire Marshall responded to the scene and found an accelerant. 
 
Kotowski was arrested on charges of attempted first-degree murder and arson of an occupied structure. Monday evening, he remained at the Hernando County Detention Center on a $60,000 bond. 
 

 

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