Land O' Lakes man charged with torching mom's house - FOX 13 News

Land O' Lakes man charged with torching mom's house

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Deputies arrived at this home on Teal Court in Land O' Lakes early Sunday morning. Deputies arrived at this home on Teal Court in Land O' Lakes early Sunday morning.
LAND O' LAKES (FOX 13) -

Robert Benjamin Brooks could only hide for so long from Pasco County Sheriff's deputies on Sunday.

The 40-year-old Land O' Lakes man was taken into custody just a few hours after investigators say he tried to burn down his mother's house on Teal Court.

Elizabeth Lynch lives in the neighborhood where the incident occurred.

"Finding out it was his own mother's house he just burned down, the home he was living in it was quite a shock," she said.

Brooks apparently snapped, deputies say. He showed up just before 9 a.m. and was demanding to talk to his wife, who was living at the residence with his parents.

When they told Brooks to leave because of a domestic violence injunction filed against him earlier this week, detectives say he refused.

"In fact, he got a gas can. And we believe he broke the window, put the gas can in and poured gas throughout the living room," said Pasco County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Doug Tobin during an afternoon news conference. "And [then he] ignited the living room."

The flames tore through the structure. Fortunately, Brooks' wife and mother made it without injury.

The suspect is facing two counts of attempted murder and one count of arson. On Wednesday, he was arrested by Pasco County deputies on a domestic violence by strangulation charge.

James Espi lives down the road from the family and had run into Brooks.

"Met him a couple times, they stay to themselves," he recalled. "This is a quiet neighborhood; this is pretty unheard of."

Deputies say the thick brush near the home made finding Brooks difficult. After approximately 4 ½ hours of hiding, the suspect was located and placed in handcuffs.

Residents who watched the law enforcement activity most of the day were relieved.

"[It was] pretty concerning, glad they found him," Espi added.

Lynch hopes this is the beginning of a turnaround for Brooks.

"We're really glad he's caught, and I hope he gets some help," she said.

The suspect was booked into the Land O' Lakes Detention Center Sunday night where he is being held without bond pending his first appearance before a judge on Monday.

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