GULFPORT, Fla. - People who live near David Cretella or work by his Gulfport Hardware store were shocked to learn that he had been arrested, accused of burning down the business he's owned for the last seven years, and charged with second degree arson.
When reached at his home on Sunday, Cretella told 10 News he had no comment. The day before, he was released from jail on $10,000 bond.
Glass shards still cover the parking lot in front of Gulfport Hardware, along with charred paint cans and dozens of keys that flew out of the store as it burned Friday night. The fire, which caused multiple explosions inside the store on Friday night, also caused $600,000 in damage.
"Wonderful, nice guy. It's an unfortunate situation," says Susie O'Connor, owner of Susie's Suds in the same shopping complex. "I think he's a very nice man. Never had any issues with him. Good neighbor. I'm kind of surprised."
Cretella owns Gulfport Hardware and the contents inside the store, but leases the property from a landlord. State filings show he's registered not as Gulfport Hardware, but as a corporation called We Be Working. Police say a big part of the case may have been caught on camera by a surveillance system at the shopping center across the street.
"Hopefully, whatever he's up to, it's ended and he can press on with his life," O'Connor says.