FLORISSANT, MO - Florissant police say it is unclear what drove a man to set fire to a home in his neighborhood.
But what is known is that he has a criminal history involving arson, dating back to when he was a teen.
Khadeem Ratcliff, 24, was most recently charged with two counts of arson after authorities said he torched a garage in the 2400 block of Northridge Place last Tuesday morning.
The home was under renovation and was unoccupied at the time.
But it could have been deadly, police said. The fire spread to the home next door, where an elderly man was inside.
Fire and police crews were able to bring him out to safety.
“I’d say he’s very lucky. This could have ended very badly,” Florissant Police Officer Steven Michael said.
Another neighbor who participates in the police department’s resident security camera program played a key role in leading authorities to Ratcliff, who happens to live a few doors down with his grandmother.
“That video was a big help,” Michael said.
Michael said Ratcliff confessed to starting the fire. One question remains unanswered, however.
“Why someone would do this, I don’t know,” Michael said.
This incident is not Ratcliff’s first brush with the law. In 2012 he was charged with setting various vehicles on fire. Ratcliff was 18 at the time.
“If you’re setting a fire to anything, other than a fireplace than a fireplace that is going to warm you, that is alarming to anybody to know what damage you’re going to cause,” Michael said. “The lives you’re going to put in danger, first responders potentially, and a homeowner. The good news is, he’s off the street.”