CONNECTICUT, USA — A suspect in at least four arson fires on Saturday — three of them at EMS/ambulance companies in three separate towns — is in custody in Pennsylvania.
Old Saybrook Police say they have obtained an arrest warrant for 37-year-old Richard White of Torrington, charging him with Arson in the Third Degree and Burglary in the Third Degree. The warrant is extraditable and has a court set bond of $150,000.
Police Chief Michael Spera says White is the sole suspect in an arson fire started by a Molotov cocktail at the Hunters Ambulance Facility in Old Saybrook on Saturday. White is also connected to other arson fires started around that State this evening that targeted Emergency Medical Services Agencies.
Police say the firebombing of the Hunter’s Ambulance facility on the Boston Post Road happened around 4:15 p.m. Around 5:15 p.m. a similar firebombing occurred at the Hunter’s Ambulance facility in Meriden.
Then, around 6 p.m., two fires were set in Roxbury. One was at the Roxbury Volunteer Fire Department on North Street, which also houses the Roxbury Volunteer Ambulance Association.
Employees at Hunter’s Ambulance told Meriden police that White was involved in a physical altercation with another employee around 10 a.m. on Saturday. That was following a disciplinary hearing that resulted in White being placed on administrative leave. White fled the scene prior to police arrival that morning, and that incident will result in separate charges.
Sgt. Paul Makuc, with the CT State Police explosion investigation unit said White is the only known suspect.
If he waives extradition hearings, he could be returned to Connecticut sometime this week.
Roxbury Fire Marshal Janet Morgan said that an ambulance parked inside that facility sustained damage, but said there were ‘multiple points of origin’. Morgan said firefighters had to respond to a nearby brush fire at about the same time. Makuc said there was significant smoke damage to the facility. He said evidence at the scene was similar in all cases and was being sent to the forensic laboratory.
Makuc said the residence was targeted and connected to the suspect, but he did not give any details. He did say the suspect had been barred from entering the building in Old Saybrook.
The FBI and ATF are also investigating.
Connecticut State Police said their Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit was requested by the Roxbury Fire Marshal to assist with intentionally set fires at the fire department and at 118 Challybes Road West.
There were no reported injuries in any of the incidents.
Law enforcement told all EMS and ambulance crews in the state to be on alert and take appropriate security precautions while White was at large.
Old Saybrook Police say White fled the state and was located in Pennsylvania shortly after 10 PM Saturday night. He was taken into custody by the Pennsylvania State Police and his car is being impounded. He was stopped on Rt. 80 in Milton.
“This individual has targeted those who we count on to save lives” Said Michael A. Spera, Chief of Police, “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.”
Other ambulance companies around the state were put on alert. “AMR immediately notified all employees for situational awareness. Requested a police presence at our offices. The safety of our employees will always be our top priority,” said Chris Chaplin, Regional Director AMR.