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Three teenagers charged in fire at library

Police say the trio had been thrown out of the North Greenwood branch last year.

By DEBORAH O'NEIL

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000


CLEARWATER -- Last year, three teenage boys were tossed out of the North Greenwood Branch Library for looking at pornography on the Internet.

Now, police say the trio returned to the library early Sunday, broke in and set a fire that caused $100,000 in damage and will shut the library down for the next two months.

Arrested were Leander Showers, 18, of 802 Jefferson Ave., Larry Eugene Miles, 16, of 802 Jefferson Ave. and Shaun Eric Seymour, 17 of 807 Jefferson Ave.

Showers was charged with first-degree burglary, arson and manufacturing a firebomb. Miles was charged with burglary and arson, and Seymour was charged with burglary and manufacturing a firebomb.

Showers was being held Thursday at the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $70,000 bail. Miles and Seymour were taken to the Pinellas County Juvenile Detention Center.

Authorities say the trio was lucky to escape unharmed.

"They were fortunate circumstances weren't such that they didn't blow themselves up," said Clearwater police spokesman Wayne Shelor.

Around 2:30 a.m., the trio lit papers and other material they had piled on a table at the library at 1250 Palmetto St., police said. Fire then spread but stayed mostly in the center of the building, causing about $40,000 in damage, said Arlita Hallam, Clearwater's quality of life administrator. In addition, materials worth at least $60,000 were ruined, Hallam said.

Two tables and several chairs were destroyed, carpet and shelves were burned, the ceiling was scorched and book racks were melted. There is smoke damage throughout the building, and the city is paying to have all of the books packed, removed from the building and cleaned.

The library's video and music collection may have been damaged too, although library workers are still examining items.

"It's pretty bad," Hallam said. "There's a lot of work to be done."

What happened saddened North Greenwood civic leader E. Ajamu Babalola, who grew up with Miles' father and is a friend of the Seymour family.

"It's heartbreaking for me really," Babalola said.

Seymour and his siblings played soccer at Ervin's All American Youth Club in North Greenwood, which Babalola founded. "They were such beautiful kids. They come from a well-respected family, one of those no-tolerance families."

Miles' mother was shocked.

"I'm still there for him," said Glenda Miles. "I love him, and I'm going to try to get him the help he needs. I think he needs help. They all do.

"Sometimes caring is not enough. You teach them right from wrong and hope they hear what you're saying," she continued. "But sometimes they go their own way, and they suffer the consequences. I hope he comes out of this okay."

Clearwater detectives John Diebel and Mark Weaver pinpointed the teens when they learned about their eviction from the library in September. Late Wednesday, Diebel interviewed the three teens, who told him they made a firebomb from fuel and glass bottles and started the fire after breaking through a library window, Shelor said.

Showers just turned 18 on July 4 and has been working at Burger King, said his uncle, Damond Dennis of Clearwater.

"(He) is a good boy," Dennis said. "He grew up over here. He probably had gone to the library for schoolwork. To go over there and do something like that, it don't make sense."

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