Father dies after son douses him in gasoline and sets him on fire

10:01 AM, Aug 24, 2010   |    comments
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Ronald W. Harris Jr.
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Davenport, Florida - Ronald Harris, Sr. died shortly before 6 p.m. after his son, Ronald Harris Jr., threw gasoline and chlorine in his face and set him on fire. Ronald Harris, Jr. admitted to deputies that he was fed up and frustrated.

The 37-year-old talked about his father.  "[I was] tired of him wearing me down," said Harris Jr.

No one was prepared for what happened next. Even Polk Sheriff Grady Judd says he was shocked.

Deputies say on Sunday night, Harris Jr. followed his father into the bathroom, and when his dad turned around, the son poured a glass of gasoline and clorox on his face and lit a match.

"Ronald Harris Jr. has a history of mental problems, including being bipolar," said the Sheriff.

After the incident, the father ran into the yard fully engulfed in flames, screaming, "My son did this to me!"

The incident happened around 7 p.m.  Sunday at the father's home.  The elder Harris was rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Records show that the two began fighting, and the violence escalated.

"Harris Jr. has been a handful his entire life," the Sheriff told the media in a news conference Monday afternoon. "He made a statement that he wished he had a gun so he could have shot him instead.  He knew setting him on fire was sick."

Neighbors tried to spray the man down with a water hose, but it was too late. The damage was already done.

Harris Jr. took off after the crime happened and was later found near the Shamrock Pub on Monday morning.  A deputy spotted him hiding.

Ronald W. Harris Jr. faces first degree murder and arson charges. The 37-year-old has a criminal history, including five previous arrests.

Deputies say there have been 22 domestic violence calls to this home in the past.

Harris Jr. has a first appearance in court Tuesday afternoon.

Melanie Brooks, 10 News

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