July 18–A Daytona Beach police patrol vehicle was found completely engulfed in flames early Sunday with a note reading “Black Lives Matter,” authorities said.
Officers responded about 2:30 a.m. to the 300 block of Keech Street and found the marked cruiser on fire in front of the Islamic Center of Daytona Beach, where it was parked and being used as a “ghost car” to deter crime, officials said.
Fire crews responded and put the fire out. No one was reported injured in the incident.
A note was found that read “Black Lives Matter. A. Sterling P. Castile. [Expletive] the police,” authorities said in a news release. It’s unclear exactly where the message was found.
The names Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and are that of two black men who were recently killed by police officers in Louisiana andMinnesota. Their deaths sparked protests nationwide, including in Central Florida.
Police Chief Mike Chitwood told The Daytona Beach News-Journal he believed the vehicle was firebombed with a Molotov cocktail, leaving more than $20,000 in damage.
He told the newspaper the vehicle had been parked in front of the Islamic Center since the Pulse nightclub shooting on June 12 in order to protect it from any backlash.
Chitwood said it’s unclear if the fire was caused by anti-police protesters, adding they have no suspects or persons of interest.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the incident “as it appears to be arson,” police said in a release.
Anyone with information can call 386-671-5100
By Christal Hayes, Orlando Sentinel
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