NEWBERRY COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A Newberry man burned down an abandoned house because he was irate about a traffic ticket, according to authorities.
Deputies arrested 34-year-old David Douglas Proctor of Newberry Wednesday afternoon and charged him with 2nd degree arson after witnesses said he torched an abandoned house in Silverstreet on December 19.
Sheriff Lee Foster said it all started when Proctor was pulled over on CR Koon Highway around 12:15 a.m. Saturday. Foster said a deputy clocked Proctor going 88 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. After issuing Proctor a speeding ticket, the deputy reported that the suspect became extremely agitated.
Investigators say when the deputy got off work later that morning, Proctor followed him home and began continuously riding by the officer's house. The officer went back out and located the suspect and advised him that is he was still mad about about the traffic ticket that he could appear in court to contest it and that his actions were not appropriate. The deputy then filed an incident report about the suspect's actions as a precautionary measure in case the suspect continued his inappropriate actions toward the officer or possibly his family.
Investigators say Proctor continued to vent to others that he was extremely upset about the ticket and that he would 'get even with the officer and Newberry County.'
On Sunday morning December 19, Silverstreet Fire Department, Friendly Fire Department and Newberry Rescue Squad all responded to a house fire in the Silverstreet community. The house was a total loss. Nobody was hurt, but the fire was suspicious because the house was abandoned without power. The Newberry County Sheriff's Office and the fire departments then launched an investigation to the incident.
Investigators then received information that Proctor was bragging that he was now 'even' with Newberry County because it cost them at least the $450 for his traffic ticket to send the emergency vehicles and manpower to the fire.
Investigators used witness statements and evidence to link the Proctor to the arson and arrest him.
"This is an extremely scary mindset toward law enforcement," said Sheriff Foster. "While we understand that some people are extremely upset with government right now, targeting a law enforcement officer for simply doing his job is never an acceptable form of protest."
"Although it appears that the intention was to get even with law enforcement and the property was abandoned, this act put our firefighters and rescue personnel at risk. Anytime the fire equipment is rolled those personnel are at risk," said Foster. "Law enforcement faces budget cuts, no raises and the increased tensions that come with tough economic conditions just as everyone else. Just because we are the only government service that functions 24/7 and are arguably the most visible form of local government does not mean we should become targets of such actions," Foster concluded.
Investigators appeared at Proctor's bond hearing and provided the magistrate with substantial information as to the suspect's actions toward the officer involved as well a genuine concern that the suspect could be a danger to himself and others. The magistrate denied Proctor bond. He remains in custody at the Newberry County Detention Center.