Wasilla man charged with arson, criminal mischief

Posted: Thursday, June 07, 2001

WASILLA - A Wasilla man was charged with arson Wednesday after shouting about plans to kill cats, throwing rocks at homes, tipping over garbage cans and then setting a home on fire.

Alaska State Troopers said Gordon E. Samel, 39, also was charged with criminal mischief and resisting arrest after he fought with troopers and kicked out a patrol car window.

Samel, who has been arrested several times over the past 20 years, was first taken to Valley Hospital in part because he told officers he had been taking drugs. He was then lodged at Mat-Su Pre-Trial Facility in Palmer.

The problems started about 3 p.m. Clarence Copeland, 55, said Samel popped out of the trees in the wooded neighborhood as Copeland was raking leaves.

"He was mumbling to himself and he said that he was going to kill my cats," Copeland said. "I told him, 'I don't have any cats.' "

Samel then tipped Copeland's trash cans over and started walking down the road.

Samel went next door to the rental home of Shirley Durling and started throwing rocks at it. Copeland told his wife, Barbara, to call 911.

While she was on the phone with police dispatchers, Clarence Copeland saw the man grab a can of gasoline off Durling's front deck. He sloshed the liquid on the deck and lighted it on fire, said Copeland, who yelled to his wife to relay the news to dispatchers.

Copeland said the man ran back to the street and starting running up and down the gravel road, then approached Copeland's home again.

Copeland told his wife to get his gun and she handed him an unloaded caliber rifle. Copeland pointed the rifle at Samel and told him to leave. Samel slowly started backing up as troopers arrived.

Troopers tried to wrestle Samel to the ground, but he fought back, and they hit him with a stun gun, Copeland said.

They were still fighting with him as fire crews showed up.

Fire officials estimated damage to the home at more than $50,000.

Durling, who lives at the home with her two young sons, was at work during the fire. She said she did not recognize Samel.

Trending this week:


© 2018. All Rights Reserved.  | Contact Us