Men arrested in separate alleged fire-starting incidents

SEQUIM — Two men have been taken into custody for alleged fire-starting in separate incidences.

Sheldon Scott Garner was arrested Monday for investigation of arson and other crimes after he allegedly started a fire near the Olympic Discovery Trail in Sequim.

Michael K. Heller was charged Monday with one count of second-degree reckless burning and three counts of third-degree assault of a law enforcement officer for allegedly setting small fires in Sequim and assaulting arresting officers.

Garner, 32, of Sequim is being held in the Clallam County jail on $2,500 bond.

Heller, 33, of Port Angeles is being held on $5,000 bond.

Sequim police were investigating an alleged arson along the Olympic Discovery Trail at Whitefeather Way on Monday when they found a suspicious male later identified as Garner on West Sequim Bay Road, court papers said.

Garner became highly agitated and threw a lighter in the air when questioned by police, court documents said.

He refused to cooperate with officers’ commands, Officer John Southard wrote in the affidavit for probable cause.

Garner was non-compliant and smelled of smoke, Southard said.

After he was handcuffed, Garner slammed his forehead into the trunk of a patrol car, according to the arrest narrative.

“Garner did this three times in quick succession until he was physically removed away from the vehicle to prevent further injury to himself or the patrol vehicle,” Southard wrote.

Garner refused medical treatment before he was booked for investigation of second-degree arson, second-degree malicious mischief, obstructing a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest.

Formal charges are expected to be filed at Garner’s next court appearance at 3 p.m. today.

Clallam County District No. 3 firefighters told Sequim police that a man later identified as Heller had set a brush fire in a field north of U.S. Highway 101 and east of Sequim Avenue on Sunday afternoon, court papers said.

Heller also was alleged to have started two other fires in a wooded area near the field.

“There is currently a county-wide burn ban and the area Heller had lit the fires was approximately two feet of dry, uncut grass,” Sequim police Officer Stephanie Benes said in the affidavit for probable cause.

“Heller was known to live in the field, had set fires in Sequim before and would flee to avoid contact with people,” Benes said.

Heller would not obey commands when contacted behind Shipley Center at 921 E. Hammond St., according to the affidavit.

He kicked two officers, bit one and attempted to bite a police sergeant and Clallam County sheriff’s deputy, Benes wrote.

As he was being transported, Heller kicked the back window and side bars of Benes’ patrol car until he was hobbled, Benes wrote.

“Heller continued to kick, pinch, scratch, grab and attempt to bite any officer or medics that got close enough to him resulting in assaulting at least three peace officers,” Benes said.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge Christopher Melly on Monday signed an order for Heller to undergo a competency evaluation.


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected]

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