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Florida man found guilty of setting fire to Cornelius police car

By By Hilary Trenda | Photography by htrenda@charlotteobserver.com

Posted: Friday, Oct. 04, 2013

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A 65-year-old Florida man was sentenced Friday to at least a year in prison after being found guilty of using a Molotov cocktail to set fire to a Cornelius police cruiser in 2011, the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office said.

The jury found Stephen Long guilty of burning personal property and malicious use of an explosive or incendiary device to damage property, prosecutors said.

In September 2011, Long was “in the area working as a contractor for a nearby nuclear power plant” when he received a speeding ticket from a Cornelius police officer, the district attorney’s office said.

Days later, Long watched that same officer monitor a crosswalk near the Cornelius Police Department and waited till the officer drove away, prosecutors said.

“Long placed a Molotov cocktail – an incendiary device he made using a milk jug and gasoline – under a Cornelius police patrol car that was parked in a drug store parking lot near the police department,” the district attorney’s office said.

Once the car caught fire, two officers and a passer-by helped put out the flames.

Long’s trial began Sept. 30, and a jury found him guilty as charged Friday, prosecutors said.

Superior Court Judge James W. Morgan sentenced Long to 12 to 15 months in prison.

Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter: @htrenda

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