Writer faces first-degree charge for blaze at Shoal Creek home
Writer Michael Point set the Shoal Creek home where he was facing eviction on fire and now faces a first-degree felony charge for arson, according to an arrest affidavit filed Tuesday by the Austin Fire Department.
The fire erupted July 21, after Point, 60, poured a trail of gasoline throughout the house, along a hallway and to a front bedroom, causing extensive fire and smoke damage at the home in the 6100 block of Shoal Creek Boulevard, the affidavit said.
A witness saw a man “break through the windows on the front of the house, with … intense fire erupting from the windows and room immediately after the man jumped through the windows,” the affidavit said. “The witness said the man then fled from the scene.”
A next-door neighbor gave police a written apology that they think Point left, the affidavit said. In the note, Point apologizes “for leaving his car in front of his neighbor’s house for reasons ‘which will be obvious by the time you read this,’ ” the affidavit said.
Point was found three blocks from his home by Austin police. He had burns and lacerations on his extremities and was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, the affidavit said.
He smelled of gasoline when investigators interviewed him at the hospital, the affidavit said. There, when asked about the cause of the fire, Point replied, “gas can,” the affidavit said.
Investigators concluded that fumes from the poured gasoline may have been ignited by the pilot light on a water heater, the affidavit said.
According to court records related to the eviction proceedings, Point had been a tenant at the rental home since 2006 and was more than two months behind on his monthly $1,295 rent. Point was given notice to vacate the property July 2.
The landlord claimed Point should be evicted because there was “failure to pay rent as agreed,” the court records said. Point was slated to appear in a court hearing connected to the eviction on July 22, the day after the fire erupted at the home.
Damage was estimated at $250,000 for the structure and $100,000 for the contents, Austin fire officials said. The 1,656-square-foot home was built in 1954, according to Travis County property records.
Point has been a freelance writer for numerous local and national publications, and specialized in writing about music and professional baseball. Point frequently contributed stories on jazz and blues music to the American-Statesman in the 1980s and 1990s.
More recently, he covered the Round Rock Express’ first three seasons for the Statesman and has written for Downbeat music magazine, Baseball America and the Austin Chronicle, among other publications.
A spokeswoman for Brackenridge said Tuesday that Point remained there in good condition. He could not be reached for comment. Fire Department spokeswoman Michelle DeCrane said Tuesday that Point would not be taken into custody until he is released from the hospital.
He faces bail of $75,000, the affidavit said.
Michael Point Man’s landlord sought to evict him over rent.