Man accused of torching Lehigh Acres Family Dollar won’t face charges

Published: June 7, 2021 3:46 PM EDT
Updated: June 7, 2021 5:04 PM EDT

A man accused of burning down a Family Dollar store in Lehigh Acres won’t face any charges for it.

The State Attorney’s Office on Monday said there isn’t enough evidence to prove Josue Vazquez Reyes set the fire earlier this year.

However, he isn’t off the hook. He’s also accused of stealing from the store where he worked as a manager.

Family Dollar has not said whether it plans to rebuild the store, and if it does, the company will have to start from scratch. Nothing remains of the store and the lot where it once stood is empty.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 26, it was all hands on deck for firefighters as fire whipped through the store at 3519 Lee Blvd.

The fire marshal, Lee County Arson Task Force, Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosive Investigations all came to the same conclusion: The fire was the result of arson, and the former store manager was arrested.

Now, more than three months later, the State Attorney’s Office decided not to file arson charges against Reyes, saying they didn’t have enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

They will, however, go forward with grand theft charges, saying Reyes, 24, stole from the store just a few weeks before the fire.

Zaginary DeJesus said losing the neighborhood grocery store hurt.

“It’s part of our community and it’s very convenient for all the families that live here,” she said.

“I hope they had enough insurance to cover it to go ahead and rebuild it.”

Family Dollar never got back to us, so we don’t know what its future plans are.

Neighbors hope the company rebuilds.

“Without that, it’s very difficult for a community to thrive when it’s not convenient,” DeJesus said.