CEDAR CITY, Utah — A man is facing numerous charges Wednesday after he allegedly stole two vehicles, started three fires, burglarized two residences and assaulted a police officer.
According to a press release from the Cedar City Police Department, 29-year-old Andrew Michael Russell has been booked into jail on three counts of aggravated arson, two counts of theft of an automobile, two counts of burglary of a residence, assault by a prisoner, and assault against a health care provider.
Things began around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday when officers responded to Cedar Post Pawn Shop, where a fire had been discovered and extinguished by a local refuse collector. Police said that “Good Samaritan’s” action prevented serious damages. The damages to the business are estimated at less than $1,000.
While investigating the first fire, officers and fire personnel were dispatched to a second fire nearby, this time at a maintenance building for the Cedar City Cemetery. The fire was reported about 20 minutes after the first blaze, and this second fire caused damages estimated at several thousand dollars.
Police believe that after starting the second fire, Russell allegedly stole a vehicle from a nearby business and drove to a residential area a few blocks away. A resident contacted police to report she had arrived home to find smoke coming from her back yard and a strange vehicle in the driveway. The home is in the 300 West block of 900 North in Cedar City.
This third fire caused minimal damage, as it was set in a metal bucket near a wood pile. Officers discovered the home had also been burglarized.
Witnesses reported seeing Russell attempt to get into other vehicles and homes in the neighborhood, and officers ultimately located the man leaving the backyard of the residence where the third fire had been reported.
After the man was arrested, Russell attempted to kick one of the arresting officers and also allegedly attempted to assault medical personnel who were examining him.
Witness reports connected Russel with all three fires and the theft of two vehicles. The man has been booked into the Iron County Correctional Facility on three counts of aggravated arson, two counts of theft of an automobile, two counts of burglary of a residence, assault by a prisoner, and assault against a health care provider.