Three locked in as fire is set

A roommate is charged with arson, false imprisonment.

By Amber Mobley and Casey Cora, Times Staff Writers
Published March 5, 2008

TAMPA - Running her fingers through her long, red hair, Katrina Patmalnee looked exhausted Tuesday afternoon.

She had a long night.

Just before midnight, authorities said, a roommate locked Patmalnee and two others in an enclosed porch before setting fire to the apartment the four shared on the second floor of building 14 at the Carrollwood Station apartment complex, 3202 Colwell Ave.

The three escaped only when the roommate came back and unlocked the porch door, Patmalnee said.

Hillsborough sheriff's deputies arrested Christopher Allan Shaffer, 24, at 4 a.m., charging him with arson, three counts of false imprisonment and domestic-related battery. He was booked into the Orient Road Jail.

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue officials said no one was injured. The fire displaced all four occupants.

As the skies threatened rain Tuesday afternoon, the smell of smoke lingered in the outdoor stairwell leading to apartment 1408.

Patmalnee said she and her boyfriend are staying with a friend for now.

"We just paid rent," she said. "Hopefully we can stay in another apartment here until the lease is up."

Shaffer, his girlfriend and Patmalnee and her boyfriend were on the porch of their Carrollwood Station apartment when Shaffer and his girlfriend began arguing.

Shaffer threw an exercise ball at the woman's head, locked the trio inside the porch, lit the bedroom closet on fire and ran away, according to an arrest report.

Kicking through a pile of wet, burned belongings in the complex's lush, green grass, Patmalnee waited to get access to her home from the complex management.

When asked how she was doing, Patmalnee, angry and shaken, replied, "alive."

Amber Mobley can be reached at amobley@sptimes.com or 813 269-5311. Casey Cora can be reached at ccora@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3386.