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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Florida

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Federal Arson Charges For Fire At Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – United States Attorney Lawrence Keefe, of the Northern District of Florida,
and Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley announced today that a federal criminal complaint has been
filed against William W. Sims, 23, of Fort Walton Beach. The criminal complaint alleges that Sims
surreptitiously entered the vehicle impound lot of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office on or about
the early morning hours of September 2, 2019, and broke into a seized Mercedes sports utility
vehicle. The complaint alleges that, after retrieving something that was concealed in the seized
vehicle, Sims used an accelerant to set the vehicle ablaze in the Sheriff’s Office lot. The fire
department was forced to respond to extinguish the blaze.

“Individuals who feel enabled to attack a law enforcement agency present an extreme threat to our
communities,” said Sheriff Ashley. “With the arrest of the suspect and the steadfast support of our
federal partners and U.S. Attorney Larry Keefe, we are sending a clear message that these
individuals will be pursued, apprehended, and ultimately held accountable.”

“When offenders attack a law enforcement agency, they attack the individuals who protect us and
help maintain law and order in our community,” said U.S. Attorney Keefe. “The U.S. Attorney’s
Office will use all of the resources at its disposal to vigorously pursue and prosecute those who
commit these types of crimes.”

Sims appeared in the United States District Court in Pensacola yesterday and was detained by the
United States Marshals Service pending further proceedings. Assistant United States Attorney David
L. Goldberg is prosecuting the case following a joint investigation by the Okaloosa County
Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms, and Explosives.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of federal
criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a
fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt at trial.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that
serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access
public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
website. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of
Florida, visit

U.S. Attorney's Office Northern District of Florida 850-216-3845
Updated October 8, 2019