Port Arthur man indicted for fleeing police, setting fire to ex-girlfriend’s apartment

Port Arthur man indicted for fleeing police, setting fire to ex-girlfriend’s apartment

A Jefferson County grand jury has indicted Willie Ford III, 24, of Port Arthur for fleeing a police officer Feb.18 and starting a fire at an apartment on Gulfway Drive on Feb. 19.

Ford had previously been convicted of evading arrest and detention when he allegedly fled from officers Nov. 18, 2015.

According to the probable cause affadavit, Groves Police Officer Alex Thibodeaux was on patrol on Feb. 18 about 2 a.m. in the 5400 block of 25th Street when he observed Ford walking on the wrong side of the roadway and attempted to conduct a pedestrian stop.

Thibodeaux stated in the probable cause affidavit that Ford did not respond and fled the scene.

Thibodeaux pursued Ford in his patrol car on 25th Street, when Ford jumped a chain link fence and fell on the other side, then ran down Crescent Avenue.

The officers did not apprehend Ford, but Thibodeaux positively identified him from previous encounters. Officers also found an iPhone 7 and Taurus 9mm handgun laying on the ground near where he jumped the fence. The iPhone had a picture of Ford and his daughter on the screen, according to the statement.

When later questioned, Ford first claimed that he had been at a girl’s apartment from 1:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and then changed his story and said he wasstopped by police around 4 a.m., which conflicted with the officers’ reports.

The very next day, Feb. 19 at 9:49 a.m., the Groves Fire Department responded to an apartment fire at 5307 Gulfway Drive, which Groves Police arson investigators determined was intentionally started in the bedroom, on top of the bed with clothes and paper. Food was scattered around the kitchen and the smoke detector battery removed, likely before the fire started.

Officers suspected Ford started the fire because the tenant, Treasure Hill, told officers that she is Ford’s ex-girl- friend. Although they have a child together, the relationship had turned violent, according to what Hill said in the probable cause affidavit.

Hill stated that Ford threatened her via text message and assaulted her the night before. Officers observed visible marks on her face and neck during theinterview. She had reported the assault to the Groves Police Department.

Hill said Ford texted her that night, “You gonna make me do something.”

Hill said that she stayed with her mother the night of Feb. 18, due to Ford’s threats. She also told investigators that she knew Ford was able to enter the apartment by forcing open the sliding glass door.

Hill identified Ford in surveillance footage obtained from the apartments the night before, the affidavit said.

An indictment is not evidence of guilt.