UPDATE: Florida man who set fire to MSP cruisers arraigned in court, faces multiple felony charges

39-year-old James Kamal Itani
39-year-old James Kamal Itani(WLUC)
Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 1:21 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2023 at 4:00 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WLUC) - UPDATE: The 39-year-old Florida man who doused Michigan State Police cruisers with gasoline, set them on fire and shot at them with a rifle was arraigned in the Chippewa County District Court on Monday.

According to the Michigan State Police, James Kamal Itani, from Orlando, Fla., was charged with more than ten felonies, including: one count of terrorism, one count of third-degree arson, 11 counts of assault with intent to murder, and multiple counts of weapons violations.

He is currently lodged in the Chippewa County Jail on a $5 million dollar bond.

Last published: Sep 13, 2023 6:21:36 PM:

A 39-year-old Florida man who doused Michigan State Police cruisers with gasoline, set them on fire and shot at them with a rifle, remains in critical condition.

According to MSP 8th District Public Information Officer, Mark Giannunzio, the suspect was injured after police carried out a search warrant last week. He began shooting at police and the police shot back.

The suspect is in critical condition at a hospital downstate. He remains in custody of the Michigan State Police but he will not be arraigned until he is charged through the Prosecutor’s Office.

Giannunzio explained that charges likely won’t be filed until his condition improves.

We will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

Last published: Sep 8, 2023 6:21:36 PM:

A Michigan State Police Lieutenant said he was shocked after three patrol cars were destroyed at the Sault Ste. Marie Post Wednesday morning.

Charred metal is all that remains of three Michigan State Police cruisers that were set on fire by an arsonist Wednesday morning. Michigan State Police 8th District Public Information Officer Lt. Mark Giannunzio said the events of this crime were astonishing.

“It is startling,” Giannunzio said. “These work sites are supposed to be our safe spaces where our troopers can go, let down their hair and get the paperwork done. When our building and our cars are attacked in those areas, it is a big wakeup call to say that this could happen anywhere at any time.”

Giannunzio said three patrol cars were destroyed and a fourth has moderate fire damage. He said no troopers were at the Post Wednesday morning when a 39-year-old Florida man doused the cruisers with gasoline, set them on fire and shot at them with a rifle.

After an extensive investigation and multiple tips, the suspect was found just south of the Soo Thursday afternoon. When police carried out a search warrant, the suspect shot toward troopers and police shot back.

The man was injured. His name has not been released. Giannunzio said officers across the department are shocked to be a victim of a crime.

“We think of this kind of activity maybe as a bigger city issue, but here we are in the beautiful U.P. and this kind of activity happens,” Giannunzio said. “It is a reminder for everybody to stay vigilant.”

Giannunzio said it has been more than 20 years since an MSP post or vehicle has been attacked. Investigators are still trying to figure out the man’s motive.

“Finding the ‘why’ is going to start now,” Giannunzio said. “Once the detectives transition today and over the next few weeks, that is going to be what they are looking for. They will look for the motives and reasoning. Why did he pick the Sault Ste. Marie State Police Post to attack?”

Giannunzio said he is relieved the suspect is in custody and he is no longer an active threat to the Michigan State Police troopers. The suspect is listed as in critical condition and is still in the hospital.

Last published: Sep 8, 2023 1:21:20 PM

Michigan State Police detectives are investigating why a Florida man lit patrol vehicles on fire and shot at them Wednesday morning.

The MSP said Friday that the 39-year-old man is hospitalized in critical condition. He was injured after shooting toward troopers Thursday afternoon.

Police started looking for the man after he drove into the driveway of the MSP Sault Ste. Marie post around 3:15 a.m. Wednesday and doused several patrol vehicles with gasoline and set them on fire. Surveillance images show the man then pulled a rifle out of his SUV and fired multiple rounds into and around the patrol vehicles.

The man’s motive is unknown. Detectives are now working on that part of the case, the MSP says. Police spent all resources Wednesday and Thursday trying to identify and find him. After an extensive investigation and multiple tips, the suspect’s location was found on Riverside Rd. south of Sault Ste. Marie.

Around 1:45 p.m. Thursday, the Michigan State Police Emergency Support Team carried out a search warrant. At that time, the suspect fired gunshots toward troopers, and troopers returned fire. Police say the man was taken by ambulance to My Michigan Medical Center. No officers were injured. The man’s name has not been released.

Police say maximum charges are being sought.

Pictures from the MSP Sault Ste. Marie Post driveway show three MSP cruisers with severe fire damage and a fourth with moderate fire damage.

This story will be updated. Watch your TV6 News Tonight at 7:00 p.m. eastern time for TV6′s Clint McLeod full report from Sault Ste. Marie.