CENTERVILLE, Utah, July 21, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — Three people, including an alleged attacker, were pulled from a raging house fire in Centerville, set by an armed home invader, who then beat two residents after stating he was going to burn them to death, according to Centerville police.
A suspect is in custody, and was reportedly transported to an area hospital along with two of the residents. Several Centerville Police officers were also transported to be treated for smoke inhalation, according to CPD Chief Paul Child.
“As you can see behind me, we had a real tragedy that struck our community and specifically the family who’s been longtime residents,” Child told reporters as he stood before the fire-gutted house.
“A complete stranger who entered their home and burned it down. I am extremely proud and honored at what my officers did today and how they rushed in took care of a competitive, aggressive person who was burning down a house with people inside, and they risked their lives.”
Sequence of events
Lt. Allen Ackerson, CPD, told reporters officers were alerted of the incident at about 2:15 p.m. Thursday, and responded to the scene, near 329 E. 1829 North.
“A male entered the home, containing elderly people, with gasoline and claims to have a knife, igniting the gasoline and then exiting the home where he attempted to burglarized some vehicle,” Ackerson said.
Police arrived to the scene, and the suspect run back into the burning house, barricading himself inside, Ackerson said.
Officers burst into the house, Tased the suspect, and pulled him and the residents, one of whom was trapped in a separate room, from the burning structure.
“Three elderly victims ended up with some blunt force trauma injuries and a couple were transported to area hospitals with non-life-threatening, non-serious injuries,” Ackerson said, adding the victims would likely been killed had help not arrived.
“The suspect is a 37-year-old White male,” Ackerson said. “There are reports that he was in the area earlier, possibly attempting to burglarize or steal vehicles and acting erratic.”
The suspect was unknown to the victims, Ackerson said.
CPD Chief Paul Child said the suspect was found with an ID indicating his address to be in Salt Lake City.
The fire fight
South Davis Metro Fire responded to the scene and found the building heavily engulfed, Deputy Fire Chief David Powers told reporters. The two-alarm fire was defensive from the start, since it was clear the structure could not be saved.
Firefighters worked protected neighboring houses, one of which suffered minor some damage. The fire also began to climb the hillside, and firefighters worked to douse the blaze.
The fire was knocked down within about 45 minutes, Powers said. Thirty-five firefighters from South Davis Metro Fire and neighboring agencies battled the blaze. With the house and a motorhome destroyed, Powers estimated damages at about $1.2 million.
Gephardt Daily will have more information as additional details are released.