Green Bay police and Green Bay Metro Fire investigators need your help solving a possible arson from the weekend.
Surveillance pictures and video clearly show the man police want to talk to in what they believe to be a random crime Saturday morning.
Investigators say it shows a man trying to break into cars, and then moments later a garage catches fire on South Chestnut Avenue, causing an estimated $20,000 in damages.
Investigators and a family of eight victims are all asking why.
“I’m like, man, who does that?” says Daniel Wayka, who lives at the Chestnut Avenue home where the fire happened.
Wayka has a lot of questions for the person who burned down his garage just before 1:30 Saturday morning.
“We all in the house sleeping and somebody come pounding on our door in the middle of the night and said, ‘There’s a fire! There’s a fire!’ My girlfriend didn’t want to answer the door ’cause she didn’t think it was for real, but we looked out the window and sure enough our garage was up in flames,” says Wayka.
In minutes, the garage and everything in it was gone. The siding had melted, and the power lines were quickly charred by flames shooting just feet from where Wayka, his girlfriend and six children slept.
“We got out of the house quick as we could,” he says.
As the Waykas deal with the aftermath, investigators are looking at what happened in the alley right before the fire.
“Through our investigation, in cooperation with the Green Bay Police Department, we stumbled across some video surveillance that was on one of the nearby garages. In the video there’s an individual that’s attempting to make entry into some locked vehicles,” says Lt. Nick Craig with the Green Bay Metro Fire Department.
The video, captured on Saturday, August 30, at 1:23 a.m., shows a man they believe to be in his late teens or twenties, casually trying to open vehicles authorities say are not his on the 300-block of South Chestnut Avenue.
They point out that a motion detecting light doesn’t even scare him off.
Then, with no other people seen on surveillance, the garage is suddenly on fire.
“There’s a large flash that can be seen on the houses across the street and then that same individual is seen running away from that area,” says Craig.
The most concerning thing to investigators and the family who lives there is just how random this appears to be.
“One of the biggest reasons why we’re asking for the public help and why this is a very serious case is there were nearby houses that could have caught fire and could have injured somebody. So we just want to make sure that we do a proper investigation and figure out why that individual was in that area at the time of the fire,” says Craig.
That’s what the Waykas want, too. “We’re just waiting on to hear something,” he says.
If you have any information, call Green Bay police at (920) 448-3208. You can also remain anonymous by calling CrimeStoppers at (920) 432-7867 (STOP). The Wisconsin Arson Insurance Council also has a toll-free tip line, 1-800-362-3005.