Neighbor rescues tied-up man from burning building

Police search for suspect who set fire to man's Roanoke apartment

ROANOKE, Va. – A Roanoke man is fortunate to be alive, thanks to his neighbor, who saved him after a violent attack early Tuesday morning.

Clarence "Skip" Kakert, 70, told police someone bound his hands and feet before ransacking his apartment and setting it on fire.

Police say they’re searching for a suspect, Omar Romance-Lomax Martin, 20, of Roanoke. He’s wanted on malicious wounding and arson charges.

Police responded to the fire at 1:50 a.m. Tuesday in an apartment in the 2800 block of Colonial Avenue SW, near Virginia Western Community College.

Police say Kakert knew the suspect. A neighbor, Chad Corby, says the suspect was asking to borrow money from the victim. Corby says he ran across the apartment complex and called 911 as soon as he saw Kakert.

“He was on his front porch, screaming for help,” Corby said. “He was tied and bound, covered in blood. He told me somebody came in, asked to borrow some money. He told them he couldn’t do it. They didn’t like that answer, proceeded to beat the crap out of him, bound him, threw him in his tub, and caught his house on fire.”

Corby says he got a knife and cut Skip free. He’s not sure if Skip would have survived if no one had been there.

“Standing, bound, had a belt tied around his ankles. He had an oxygen cord and a phone cord tied around his wrists,” he said.

Corby says he would never have thought he’d see someone in that state.

“The fire was scary enough, but to see him covered in blood and the thought that someone would try to rob and kill him was unreal,” he said.

Neighbors say the 70 year old uses an oxygen mask. Police say Skip’s injuries are not life-threatening.