Key Largo man charged with two counts of attempted murder following failed suicide attempt

John Merendino is being held on $250,000 bond.
John Merendino is being held on $250,000 bond.

A Key Largo man accused of setting a building fire in a suicide attempt now faces two counts of attempted murder.

John Merendino, 48, was arrested Tuesday by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office as a result of the July 16 fire in an apartment building near mile marker 95.1.

"Merendino lit his apartment on fire in an alleged attempt to commit suicide," agency information officer Becky Herrin said. "There were people at home in the two other apartments in the building who were forced to evacuate their homes because of the fire."

A woman in a neighboring apartment called rescuers just after midnight when her fire alarm sounded.

"When firefighters arrived, they found Merendino in his apartment, in a bathtub full of water," Herrin said. "As paramedics tended to him, [Merendino] told them he purposefully lit the apartment on fire in an attempt to kill himself."

The fire killed Merendino's two cats.

He was charged with arson, two counts of attempted second-degree murder and two counts of animal cruelty. He remained jailed at press time under a $245,000 bond.