John Hawkins arrested on multiple charges in Bonifay arson


The Bureau of Fire, Arson & Explosives, along with Holmes County Sheriff’s Office, has made a second arrest in connection to a February 2023 arson case in Bonifay.

The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office executed the arrest of John Hawkins, father of Washington County commissioner Tray Hawkins, Tuesday, July 2, on multiple charges, including organized scheme to defraud, two counts of fraud, principle to arson, and giving a false report to law enforcement.

Investigators with he Bureau of Fire, Arson & Explosives state Hawkins is also implicated in an unrelated case; however, officials have not disclosed details of that open investigation at this time.

The first suspect arrested in the arson case, Wiley Coleman Armstrong of Vernon, was found guilty of two counts of Second-Degree Arson this past May after prosecutors
presented evidence proving Armstrong was responsible for setting fire to the same SUV in January and February 2023.

Testimony showed a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe was set on fire on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, at an All Star Tire and Performance in Bonifay, causing about $30,000 in damage to the business.

Records show that Tahoe belonged to Hawkins; however, investigators have not yet confirmed allegations that Armstrong was hired to set the fire.

Video surveillance showed Armstrong approaching the vehicle, opening the rear passenger door and pouring what appeared to be an ignitable liquid into the vehicle before setting it on fire.
While reviewing surveillance footage for the February fire, video was found showing that the same man approached the same vehicle and doing the same thing on Jan. 10, 2023. But on that date, when the defendant shut the rear door, the fire was smothered and not discovered at that time.

Washington County News will update this story as more official reports are obtained.

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