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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Suspected arsonist arrested in blaze that destroyed Masonic Lodge in Leesburg

Luke Pratt
Luke Pratt

A suspected arsonist has been arrested in a blaze that destroyed the Masonic Lodge in Leesburg.

The June 14 fire ripped through the Masonic Lodge located at 200 Richey Road and was allegedly set by 22-year-old Luke Scott Pratt, who lives at 3203 Casteen Road, within one mile of the lodge.

Pratt on June 18 admitted to his mother that he set the fire at the Masonic Lodge, according to an affidavit of probable cause from the Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosives Investigations. He made the admission while he was at her home in Marion County and was and was taken into custody by Marion County sheriff’s deputies under the Baker Act.

His mother contacted law enforcement and met them at her son’s home in Leesburg where explosive devices were recovered. Pratt’s mother and his brother both identified him in surveillance video from the night of the fire. The affidavit noted that Pratt’s mother cried when she made the identification.

Firefighters battled the flames Wednesday night at the Leesburg Masonic Lodge
Firefighters battled the flames Wednesday night at the Leesburg Masonic Lodge.

Pratt, who was in a hospital in Marion County, called his mother during the investigation at his home and he spoke over the phone to investigators.

He admitted that on the night of the fire, he sat in his car in a nearby parking lot, watching with binoculars to ensure everyone had left the lodge. Carrying a gas can, he walked to the front door and used a baseball bat to smash it. He poured gasoline throughout the building and used matches to light a fire. He left the building and drove away, but returned a few minutes later to make sure the fire was still burning. He left a second time, went home and went to bed.

Pratt said he is “mad at what the Masonic Lodge stands for” and said he believed they had been following him. Investigators obtained a search warrant that led to the discovery of journals that details Pratt’s “dislike for the Masonic Lodge.”

Pratt turned himself in Thursday at the Lake County Jail. He is facing charges of arson and burglary. He was being held on $15,000 bond.

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