TORRINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — A Torrington man allegedly responsible for intentionally starting four fires in Connecticut on Saturday night has been arrested.
Old Saybrook police said that 37-year-old Richard White was arrested in Milton, Pennsylvania, shortly after 10 p.m. during a traffic stop by Pennsylvania State Police. White’s car was impounded, police said.
Old Saybrook Police Chief Michael Spera said that White had been throwing Molotov cocktails at several locations, starting several fires across the state.
On Sunday, state police said troopers believe all four locations were specifically targeted by the suspect.
“This individual has targeted those who we count on to save lives,” said Chief Spera Saturday night. “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.”
WEB EXTRA: State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit give update on the investigation into four fires intentionally set in Connecticut on Saturday
At approximately 4 p.m. Saturday, the first fire was started in Old Saybrook at the Hunters Ambulance base inside of the employee room. State police say that White was not permitted to be inside of the building at the time of the fire.
Police report that White fled the scene in a 2004 Gray Ford Taurus.
Shortly after 5 p.m., police said White then drove to Meriden and threw another Molotov cocktail at the Hunters Ambulance base building from his car. Upon police arrival, an employee told police that at about 10 a.m., a Hunters employee by the name of Richard White was involved in a physical altercation with another employee.
Meriden police say, “This was following a disciplinary hearing that resulted in White being placed on administrative leave. White fled the scene prior to police arrival and that case was already reported with our department. This case will result in separate charges and submitted with the subsequent incident.”
Meriden police notified surrounding agencies, Connecticut State Police and emergency personnel in the surrounding states in an effort to locate White.
Police believe White then drove to Roxbury where he “intentionally set fire” to an ambulance inside of the local fire department on North Street.
White then drove to a home on Chalybes Road and “intentionally set fire” to the home just after 6 p.m. CSP believes someone at the Roxbury home was connected to the suspect and was targeted. Old Saybrook Chief Spera told News 8 they believe the residence was White’s childhood home.
“At this time, all we can tell you is that the residence, there was a connection to the suspect from that residence. And so, we believe that residence was specifically targeted as was the firehouse and as were the other facilities in Meriden and Old Saybrook,” said Sgt. Paul Makuc with CSP.
The arrest warrant for White is extraditable and charges him with arson and burglary in connection to the Old Saybrook fire. Bond is set to $150,000.
Police are still assessing the damage at all four scenes. Police report there was a significant amount of smoke damage at the Roxbury firehouse. CSP report that at this time White is the only known suspect.
The incidents are still being investigated and more charges are expected. State police confirm that the FBI and ATF were called in to assist with the investigation.
Hunter’s Ambulance Service released the following statement on the incident:
Understandably our staff was shaken by the events occurring on Saturday, February 27th.
We are grateful for the rapid response and services provided by the Fire and Police departments of Meriden and Old Saybrook.
Our EMTs and Paramedics work closely with these departments on a daily basis by responding in the community to other people’s needs. Saturday we became the victims of senseless acts of violence. Thankfully, due to the swift actions of our staff and of fire and police professionals in the communities we serve, no one was injured and property damage was minimized.
An individual that is the likely suspect in these horrific acts was apprehended within a few hours. This was a result of quick and thorough investigation, through multi-departmental and multi-state communication which ultimately lessened additional risks of injury and property damage.
Our thoughts and well wishes also go out to the members of the Roxbury Emergency Services.
The health and safety of our employees is our primary concern and we will continue to work with them to provide the services that they need as we also work with authorities to assure the individual responsible is brought to justice.David D.Lowell, Chief Operating Officer, Hunter’s Ambulance Service
There was another report of a fire on 7 Blackville Road in the Town of Washington Saturday. CSP Fire and Explosive Investigation Unit was requested by the local fire marshal. It appears it is not connected to the others.