Fires at four EMS facilities and a house
Peter Yankowski, J.D. Freda, Connecticut Post, Bridgeport
Feb. 28—Police say hours before setting fires at emergency services facilities in Meriden, Old Saybrook and Roxbury, a Torrington EMT got into a fight with a fellow Hunter’s Ambulance employee after he was placed on administrative leave in a disciplinary hearing.
The suspect, identified by police as 37-year-old Richard White, was taken into custody late Saturday in Pennsylvania, after they say he set four fires that damaged emergency services facilities and a home in Connecticut.
Old Saybrook police have obtained an arrest warrant charging White with arson and burglary. State and local authorities are working with state’s attorneys from three jurisdiction to file additional charges, officials said.
Police said they were first called around 10 a.m. Saturday to the Hunter’s Ambulance headquarters in Meriden, where they learned White was placed on leave then got into a fight with another employee. Meriden police said they were told he fled in a gray Ford Taurus.
About six hours later, White went to the Hunter’s Ambulance facility in Old Saybrook and ignited a Molotov cocktail in the employee room shortly before 4:30 p.m., according to police.
White’s car was spotted returning to the Meriden facility around 5 p.m., and the driver threw a lit Molotov cocktail at the building before speeding away on West Main Street, police said.
Around an hour later, state police said Roxbury officials were called to a blaze at the fire and EMS headquarters and at a nearby residence. State police said White is also suspected of setting these fires.
“This all unfolded very quickly,” state police Sgt. Paul Makuc said.
Authorities said White was taken into custody around 10 p.m. in Milton, Pa., about 230 miles from Roxbury.
Makuc said White was connected to the Roxbury EMS facility and the nearby home that were set on fire, but said investigators were still gathering information.
Police said they do not know if White had any connection to Pennsylvania or where he was headed.
It is unclear if Molotov cocktails were used to start the fires in Roxbury, but Makuc said similar evidence was found at all four scenes. He said evidence has been sent to the state’s crime lab for further analysis.
Investigators on Sunday were still trying to assess the full damage of the fires.
“This individual has targeted those who we count on to save lives” Old Saybrook Police Chief Michael Spera said in a statement. “Our officers have worked diligently all evening obtaining both search and arrest warrants in an effort to quickly stop these violent attacks against public safety and cause the suspect to be taken into custody.”
Before White was taken into custody, the state Office of Emergency Medical Services sent a notice to emergency medical services in Connecticut, warning them of the fires.
“At least four facilities in different parts of the state have been affected,” the notice read.
Officials said no one was injured in any of the fires.
“We would like to thank all of the agencies that worked collaboratively in bringing this incident to a safe resolution,” Meriden police Capt. John Mennone said.
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