A 20-year-old Florida man has been charged with first-degree arson and burglary of an unoccupied structure after setting a fleet of golf carts on fire, which resulted in an estimated $500,000 in damage to Miami’s Melreese Country Club.
Carlos Crespo was charged with the crime and was held on $15,000 bond. Capt. Ignatius Carroll of Miami Fire Rescue told The Miami Patch that the fires began around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24. In addition to the dozens of golf carts, surveillance cameras, windows and awnings were also damaged.
“Video surveillance at the country club captured a young, white male with long curly hair, wearing a tank top and white shorts setting fire to the property,” Officer Michael Vega of the Miami Police Department said. “An anonymous tip led detectives to the alleged offender.”
Melreese Country Club is located near Miami International Airport and is a public golf course home to Miami’s First Tee youth golf program. The site has been mired in controversy in recent months after the announcement that Major League Soccer would granting an expansion franchise to Miami. Pending a November vote, Melreese is slated to be the site of the soccer club’s new stadium and adjoining entertainment complex.
— WPTV (@WPTV) July 26, 2018
Two weeks ago, PGA Tour pro Erik Compton joined other orange-clad supporters of Melreese and the First Tee program at a Miami City Hall meeting to argue the benefits of the golf course.
“I’ve had the opportunity to play very beautiful golf courses all around the world,” Compton said, according to The Sun Sentinel. “Melreese is a very special place. Soccer can fit in Miami, but not at Melreese. These kids have nowhere to go if you take away Melreese. Soccer doesn’t belong at Melreese. The kids belong there.”