Arrest Made in Lawyer's Fire

Panama City police are leveling arson charges against a local man for a fire that gutted some downtown law offices last week.

Forty-seven-year-old Donald Black is in the Bay County Jail, facing charges of arson, burglary and violation of probation.

Investigators say Black broke into a car parked next to the law office of Ledman, Hamm and Lord. They say he stole items from the car, then set it on fire to cover the crime.

But the fire to spread to the law office in the 1000 block of Jenks Ave, doing about $600,000 worth of damages. Firefighters were able to recover about 90 percent of the law firm’s legal documents.

Investigators say Black lived in an apartment behind the law firm and was supposed to be under house arrest, but police say he went to a bar last Monday night, where he met the car owner.

Jon Morris of the Police Department says it all started over stereo gear.

“They had an argument over the sale of some stereo equipment. When the victim left he burglarized it and then set fire to the car."

The car fire then spread to the law office.

Lawyers with Ledman, Hamm and Lord have already reopened at a new location off of Beach Drive. They plan to rebuild the law firm off of Jenks Avenue. It should be reopened within six months.


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