Arson suspect found dead
A Baggs man who allegedly tried to burn down some buildings and a house in Baggs on Wednesday was found dead in his vehicle a day later.
Jerry Donald Dick, 65, of Baggs, shot himself to death in his truck near the Wyoming border when authorities were seeking him in connection with the attempted arson, Wyoming Carbon County officials said.
About six homes were evacuated after a neighbor notified police that she saw a man acting suspiciously and smelled gasoline at a nearby home.
A suspect, later identified by witnesses as Dick, apparently had planned to set fire to storage sheds on Lash Street, officials said. He also allegedly poured gasoline on a house owned by his wife, who lives in another state. The two had been separated at the time of incident, and Dick lived at the other end of town.
Baggs police Chief Ed Owen said an explosion would have been disastrous, considering the large amount of gasoline that was emptied onto the buildings. The buildings are in close proximity to other homes and are three blocks off of Baggs’ main street. Owen said there was evidence Dick had planned to return to set the buildings on fire.
“Had the fire been set, we would have had a wail of an explosion,” he said.
Baggs Fire Department, Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, Laramie Police Department Bomb Squad, Office of Homeland Security and Wyoming Fire Marshal’s Office officials assisted in securing the scene.
But Owen said it was the help of community policing that staved off a disaster in Baggs. A witness called in the suspicious activity, and another person called police after noticing Dick’s truck near the state line.
“Cops can’t do this all,” he said. “Twice in this case, people called in when they saw suspicious activity. It resulted in no damage, but it could have been horrendously worse.”
Amy Hamilton can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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