Police: Ex-chief targeted foes in string of Maryland arsons

LAUREL, Md. (AP) — A former Maryland police chief is accused of setting fires to multiple structures that belonged to his adversaries, authorities said.

Former Laurel Police Chief David Crawford, 69, was arrested Wednesday and is charged with over 50 felonies, including first-degree arson and first-degree attempted murder, in connection to a string of fires from 2011 to 2020 in Howard, Prince George’s, Frederick and Montgomery counties.

Twelve fires were set in the nine-year span to multiple homes, vehicles and residential garages, authorities said.

Investigators determined the fires were connected to people who had disagreements with Crawford, authorities said. Police said they found a target list of known victims and other evidence during a search of Crawford's Howard County home in January.

Some of the victims include a former City of Laurel official, three former law enforcement officials and two of Crawford’s former physicians.

“People who are angry, they do bad things,” said State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci. “Clearly, our suspect, thought he was wronged in a lot of different cases and wronged by a lot of different people, and these are all, you know, spite-revenge fires.”

All the fires were set at night. In six of the arsons, the victims were asleep in their homes with their families. Authorities said no one was injured in any of the fires.

Crawford is being held at the Howard County Detention Center. It's unclear whether he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

Crawford served as the Laurel police chief from 2006 until his resignation in 2010.

Laurel Mayor Craig Moe, who appointed Crawford, said he was a staple in the community. Moe said some people in the police department were unhappy with Crawford, but that wasn't unusual for a police chief, The Baltimore Sun reported.

“It’s very disturbing," Moe said. "Somebody who took an oath of office to protect and serve, that’s not how you protect and serve.”

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