Hancock Sheriff's Office Joins Investigation Into Fire At Home Of Former Basketball Star

The investigation into the house fire at former NBA and Gulfport High standout Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf has now turned into a criminal investigation.

The North Hancock County house burned down early Monday morning. Authorities have officially ruled the cause of the fire as arson. They say someone used an accelerant to start the fire. Investigators won't know exactly what it was until test results come back.

The Hancock County Sheriff's Department has been asked to join the investigation.

"This morning we had a meeting with the state fire marshal, the Hancock County fire marshal, and members of the FBI to discuss the case. The state fire marshal's office asked that we get involved in the investigation," Sheriff Steve Garber said. "I'm getting ready to assign an investigator to this case. Basically, right now we don't know where this case is heading. I've heard a lot of rumors, racial, and all that. About a year and a half ago, there were some racial problems up there. But we haven't had any problems in a year and a half. But we're not ruling that out."

Officials say the fire started in the middle part of the house. The accelerant was found on the floors and carpet.

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