08/21/06 — Suspect flees, charged in trailer fire

View Archive

Suspect flees, charged in trailer fire

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on August 21, 2006 1:55 PM

A shooting Saturday morning started a chain of events that eventually involved a car accident and allegedly, the burning of a mobile home.

Billy Hardy Jr., 22, of Hack Drive in Dudley, is being held in the Wayne County Jail today under $63,000 bond. He is charged with setting fire to a mobile home at 958 O'Berry Road.

Detectives from the Wayne County Sheriff's Department said Hardy helped flag down an ambulance Saturday near the intersection of U.S. 117 and U.S. 13.

A 15-year-old boy had been shot in the neck, authorities said, and Hardy and Cedric McKinney were en route to Wayne Memorial Hospital with him when they spotted the ambulance.

After the ambulance left with Cobb, lawmen detained Hardy and McKinney for questioning. The back window of their car had been shot out. After questioning, they were released.

Cobb was transferred to Pitt Memorial Hospital, but hospital officials said this morning they had no record of his being treated there.

About 6:30 p.m., the Highway Patrol called the Sheriff's Office to assist with a reported accident on O'Berry Road near Herring Road. The driver had jumped from the vehicle and run. Deputy Joe Smith and state Trooper Jimmy Graham were searching the immediate area for the driver when they spotted a mobile home on fire about 100 yards away. As they approached, they said they saw a man climbing out of one of the mobile home's windows. He tried to run and even jumped on top of one of the fire trucks that had arrived in an attempt to escape.

Hardy was arrested at the scene. Officers said he kicked out the rear window of the patrol car after being put inside the vehicle.

The mobile home, owned by Gail Thornton, was destroyed. The trailer and its contents were valued at about $30,000, according to Sheriff's Office reports.

Investigators said they believe Hardy set the fire in an attempt to distract his pursuers. Sheriff's Office investigators said they have a suspect in the shooting.