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Sheriff: Man claims he burned store to run 'Arabs out of our country'

A man accused of trying to set a business on fire in Port St. Lucie told investigators he did it to "run the Arabs out of our country."

The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office arrested 64-year-old Richard Leslie Lloyd Friday morning outside the Met Mart on NW Prima Vista Boulevard after getting a call about a suspicious person.

Lloyd, according to the arrest affidavit, pushed a dumpster to the front of the building, tore down some signs, and lit the contents of the dumpster on fire.

Authorities said the fire caused "visible smoke damage" to the front of the building. The store was not open at the time and the security shutters were down and intact. The husband of the owner told investigators he saw the man in the store a few days ago.

MOTIVE

Lloyd later told investigators he went to the store a few days ago to buy a bottle of Tropicana Orange Pineapple Juice. He became angry after learning the store didn't sell it. According to the report, Lloyd said he also was mad because the "worker was Arab" and he assumed him to be Muslim.

Lloyd told investigators his plan was to burn the building to the ground and "run them out of America" for "what they're doing in the Middle East," according to the arrest affidavit. During the interview with investigators, Lloyd said he "was doing his part for America".

“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Lloyd made the assumption that the store owners were Muslim when, in fact, they are of Indian descent,” Sheriff Ken Mascara said. “Regardless, we will not tolerate violence based on age, race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, homeless status, mental or physical disability.”

According to the arrest affidavit, Lloyd admitted to having a long history of mental health issues.

He is being held at the St. Lucie County jail on a charge of first degree arson.

The Sheriff's Office said Lloyd's mental health will be evaluated and the State Attorney's Office will determine whether the incident is an intentional hate crime.

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