St. Pete Police are searching for an unknown suspect who intentionally started a fire at a rehabilitation clinic in South St Petersburg early Wednesday morning.
Investigators say just after midnight Tuesday, someone broke into the Southside Accident & Rehab Clinic on 34th Street South, shattered the glass door and used an unknown accelerant to set fire inside the building.
Marija Stone, who manages the clinic, says she and her sons still can’t believe anyone could be so cruel. "It's heartbreaking to wake up and find out someone set your business on fire,” she said with a sigh.
The business is charred, covered in shattered glass and doused in fire accelerant.
Raheem Stone, Marija's son who also works at the clinic added, “If she was a bad person, maybe I would understand karma, but all she does is help people.”
The clinic helps hundreds of car accident victims get back their mobility through therapy and chiropractice.
"For someone to kick in her front door and light her business on fire. That’s hurting the community more than it’s hurting her," Raheem added while looking at the damaged clinic.
Why would anyone try to harm the small business? It’s a question Stone can’t seem to answer, she did notice someone acting suspicious around her building Monday afternoon.
“He was walking up and down and taking a lot of interest in our clinic. He was looking up and down. I thought it was a patient checking to make sure he had the right location, but then the man walked away," Marija Stone explained.
She didn’t think much of it until 1AM Tuesday when she learned someone torched her clinic.
Stone has a message for the person responsible. “You think your cowardly ways of coming here in the middle of the night is going to intimidate me, you’ve got another thing coming."
Investigators need your help. They’re looking for a dark skinned black man in his 40s, who's 6 feet tall and around 300 pounds with short black hair. He has no facial hair. Officers say he was seen in the area at the time of the fire.
Stone worries the arsonist could target other businesses, if he isn’t caught soon.