A North Kitsap man accused last week of burning his house to the ground, threatening fire fighters with their own ax, pouring gasoline on another neighbor's porch and getting shot at until the neighbor ran out of bullets may have been in the throes of meth paranoia.
On Monday Kitsap County prosecutors charged Fred H. Carpenter IV, 41, with a series of felonies related to the fast-moving incident Wednesday morning. The scene apparently started when 911 dispatchers were alerted just before 11 a.m. to a vehicle fire on the 27000 block of Burkes Lane NE, near Kingston. The car belonged to a neighbor of Carpenter’s, according to authorities.
Not long after that report firefighters updated the response to include a house fire at Carpenter’s nearby residence. Then another update came when a different neighbor called 911 to say he shot Carpenter during a confrontation that started when he found a man pouring gasoline on his porch, according to court documents. Detectives later determined Carpenter was not hit by the gunfire.
Carpenter was charged with first-degree arson for allegedly setting his rental house on fire, attempted first-degree arson for allegedly pouring gasoline on the neighbor’s porch and second-degree arson for allegedly setting fire to the car. Gas cans were found near Carpenter's house, according to court documents, and investigators searching for the cause of the blaze reported smelling gasoline near the fire's suspected point of origin.
The neighbor told detectives he confronted the man pouring gasoline on his porch and told him to get away from the house while holding him at gunpoint. However, the suspect — identified in court documents as Carpenter — started approaching him, the neighbor said, so he fired a "warning shot." This did not dissuade the suspect.
"I don't want to shoot you," the neighbor said, according to court documents, to which Carpenter replied: "I want you to shoot me."
Carpenter continued to approach the neighbor, who retreated and fired four more times as the suspect continued to press toward him, according to court documents. He aimed for the suspect's limbs, firing all the rounds in the gun.
Meanwhile, two North Kitsap Fire and Rescue firefighters back at the vehicle fire had moved away from the flaming vehicle and into a nearby forested area, unsure it was safe to be so close to the car, a detective wrote. When they emerged from the woods they saw Carpenter holding a firefighters' axe, which had been left on the ground.
A detective wrote Carpenter was at a distance of about 25 yards from the firefighters and started walking toward them holding the axe near his chest "like he was getting ready to use it."
Prosecutors charged Carpenter with third-degree assault for this development in the incident.
“The suspect was screaming about killing someone but for the most part the firefighters could not understand what he was saying,” a Kitsap County sheriff's detective wrote in court documents.
A Poulsbo Fire Department battalion chief confronted Carpenter and persuaded him to release the axe, according to court documents, then a deputy and firefighters subdued him.
During the struggle Carpenter told the deputy to "just kill me" before medics injected him with sedatives.
Another detective who twice tried to interview Carpenter — and described the first effort as “nearly fruitless” — wrote that Carpenter appeared paranoid and under the influence of drugs, noting that Carpenter admitted to using meth the previous weekend.
However, Carpenter said just before the fire broke out he had barricaded himself inside because unidentified people had arrived and started banging on the door. He told a detective he dove out of a window but then saw the house was on fire, so he ran back inside and tried to douse it before the smoke became too much. He also denied pouring gasoline on the neighbor's porch and said that he took possession of the axe “for self-defense.”
A deputy who drove Carpenter to the Kitsap County Jail wrote in reports that while on the road Carpenter said he was being chased by “the Mexican Cartel” and was afraid for his life.
“He thought that setting a fire would bring authorities to help him,” the deputy wrote in court documents. “He repeatedly said he was more afraid of being tortured by the Cartel than anything else.”
This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Meth paranoia might have triggered Kingston arsons