A part-time resident of Brush Creek faces a felony charge of attempted arson after he allegedly grew irate at a hunter’s killing of a bear on a neighboring ranch and doused the property’s driveway with gasoline.
Thomas Andersen, 68, also faces a disorderly conduct count after he berated the hunter’s young sons, according to his arrest warrant.
Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies on Sept. 7 were called to a home on Brush Creek Road around 8 p.m. on a report of a person shooting multiple bears, including cubs. But the caretaker of the ranch on which the bear was shot said he gave the hunter permission. The hunter had a bear license, and deputies learned from Colorado Parks and Wildlife that the hunt was legal.
An incensed Andersen, however, came to the property and screamed obscenities at the hunter’s sons, including telling them that “you goddamn motherf------, you killed the goddamn f------ bear.”
Sgt. Michael Buglione went to Andersen’s home and was invited in, at which point he told the defendant that the hunt was legal.
“Andersen began screaming and went into a rage about killing the bear,” the warrant says. “Andersen’s rage went on for over two minutes.”
Told again that CPW had deemed the hunt legal, “Andersen became more enraged and said, ‘I spoke to [the ranch caretaker] yesterday, and he told me he was not going to shoot anymore,’” Buglione wrote in the warrant. “That f------ Italian will probably put a hit on me and have my head blown off.”
Buglione told Andersen that he (Buglione) is also of Italian descent and that he was going to leave until Andersen calmed down.
He and another deputy returned around 11:30 p.m. after the hunter told them that, as he was driving away from the ranch with his sons, he noticed an overwhelming smell of gasoline. He also found a red-and-black plastic nozzle and brown paper crumbled near what looked like a puddle of gas in the driveway. The hunter put the paper under a bucket so it wouldn’t blow away.
The paper was ripped, but Buglione wrote that he could make out the name of Andersen’s wife. The deputy returned to the defendant’s home and “noticed a red, plastic 5-gallon gas container missing the nozzle near the mud-room door,” the warrant says.
Asked if he knew about the gas and paper on the driveway, Andersen allegedly said, “Yes, but I didn’t light it.” Buglione asked if he did that in retaliation to the bear’s killing, and Andersen repeated the statement, according to the warrant.
“Your affiant then asked Andersen if he thought that putting small children, adults and property at risk was a good idea, and Andersen said, ‘No,’” Buglione wrote.
The hunter wrote a statement saying he believes that he when he drove up the driveway, Andersen “ran away and … was in the act or process of lighting the fire.”
Andersen, who also lives in Miami, declined comment Thursday, as did his attorney, Joseph Saint-Veltri of Denver. Andersen had not been arrested on the warrant as of Thursday evening.