SBPD Armadillo burns, could be connected to several suspicious fires

NOW: SBPD Armadillo burns, could be connected to several suspicious fires

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The South Bend Police Department's Nuisance Abatement Vehicle or Armadillo was damaged by fire early Sunday morning and police are saying the cause is not mechanical.

The South Bend Police Department is just the latest victim in about a handful of fires in the last couple of months on the city's Northwest side.

There were six other fires on the Northwest side just last month, four of which are blocks from each other.

Now the Armadillo that was on fire is also just steps away.

"I'm not surprised. It’s just getting out of control, that’s all i know for sure. Because it’s every day. Every day it seems like there’s something going wrong," Terry West, one neighbor said.

"It’s been kind of like a war zone almost. We hear gunshots almost every other day. The past couple of months it’s been fires every week or two," One neighbor who did not want to go on camera because of safety said.

The Armadillo was put on the corner of Elwood and Brookfield because of the number of shots fired in the area.

On Sunday, it was on fire.

“It’s just unbelievable that somebody would do something like that," West said.

Terry West has lived on Johnson for over 15 years and has seen a downward spiral.

"Definitely. The first couple years have been fine but the last four years it’s been out of control of shootings and just bad news.”

Setting fires to abandoned houses is one thing but when there is a fire set to a vehicle put there to help the neighborhood, West tells me it’s a shame.

"Angry with the police," West said. “They’re doing their job so i respect that. I do feel real safe when they’re around.”

Neighbors say the car was only there a couple days before it caught fire – but they aren’t surprised.

This is just the latest fire in that area. ABC57 has reported on at least 6 other fires, four of which are blocks from each other.

And just doors down from where the armadillo fire was, was another fire that happened on Oct. 5th, another block down, on the same street, was another fire on Oct. 23.

On Oct. 7th there were two other fires, one on Johnson Street and another on Adams Street, both just a couple minute walk.

The two others were about a mile away. Most of the homes were vacant.

Police are investigating the Armadillo fire. A spokesperson saying “based on the information gathered at this time, the cause of the fire does not appear to be mechanical.”

When asked if it could be arson or if it’s connected to the other fires, the spokesperson tells ABC57 “as far as the investigation, all aspects are being considered.”

But those in the neighborhood say it seems like it.

"It didn’t just catch on fire spontaneous combust by itself, something happened," one neighbor said.

"I definitely know it is. I know it is. It’s just people who are kids roaming having nothing to do and they just setting fires," West said.

Now, some are looking to move.

"I grew up in south bend. It sucks that I feel like I have to leave town," One neighbor said.

Police are reviewing video from the Armadillo as a part of the investigation.

The South Bend Fire Department is still investigating the several other fires in the area, if they are connected and if they were intentionally set. As we told you in October, the police department arson investigator was a part of the case.

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