A fire discovered early Monday at the Far-Southside home of an Indianapolis police officer was intentionally set, investigators said.
Around 1:15 a.m., authorities said, someone set fire to the back porch area of the home occupied by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer Justin Beaton, his wife and their two children, ages 2 and 7.
The blaze quickly gutted the house and a backyard pool, leaving the family homeless and causing $100,000 damage.
IMPD and Indianapolis Fire Department investigators did not specify a motive or why they believe it was arson. They would not comment on reports that an incendiary device was used.
The crime stunned neighbors in the tree-lined, neighborhood of brick homes. Neighbors were uncertain whether it was a random act of violence or a case of someone targeting a police officer.
"They are both equally scary" scenarios, said Ed Rudisell, a next-door neighbor of the officer who was awakened by the commotion and ran outside to see Beaton unsuccessfully try to knock down flames with a garden hose. "If it's an individual that is starting fires or targeting a police officer, it's beside the point."
Beaton, who has been with the department for about five years, couldn't be reached. IFD spokeswoman Capt. Rita Burris said the officer's wife heard the sound of breaking glass on the back porch and then fire quickly engulfed the house. It took firefighters 30 minutes to put out the flames.
IMPD spokeswoman Sgt. Linda Jackson said officers can become known off-duty, because of cases they work or the fact they take home marked patrol cars. "If they (someone) did target them, it's disturbing," Jackson said.