Homeless man arrested for setting fires at bus stop


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Eric Robert Channing, 32, was arrested last night and charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly setting multiple fires at the bus stop at 1412 W. University Avenue.

A Gainesville Police Department Officer reportedly saw Channing starting a fire with flames reaching the height of six feet, directly in front of the bus stop. Gainesville Fire Rescue (GFR) arrived to put out the fire, but a few minutes later, Channing allegedly started another fire in the same location, disturbing people who were waiting at the bus stop.

A GFR official told the officer that the agency had responded twice in the past week to calls for fires that were started by Channing.

Post Miranda, Channing reportedly said he wanted to start the fire because it was cool. He reportedly admitted that he had been told by officers that he should not start another fire, but he chose to start the fire because he wanted to.

In August of 2021, Channing was arrested for allegedly burning another man while sleeping, and he was arrested in January for allegedly trying to rob a couple in the same area where the fires were set. A sworn complaint was filed in August, with the victims stating that he had demanded that they give him a free beverage from a restaurant in the 1400 block of W. University Avenue and said he would beat them up when they left work if they did not give him the drink. All of the charges in the above cases were dropped.

He has been adjudicated guilty in three misdemeanor cases this year, two for trespassing and one for petit theft and trespass without warning; he has been fined $276, $276, and $376 in the three cases but has not paid any of the fines

Channing has two felony convictions, with the most recent in 2022; bail information is unavailable on holidays.

Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

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