Thomas John Eurell got angry when a Federal Way police officer gave him a traffic ticket a few months back.
Eurell, 29, decided to get even by setting a dozen fires in Tacoma, according to court documents.
“He explained that he set the fires to waste law enforcement’s time and money,” Pierce County deputy prosecutor Dawn Farina wrote in charging papers filed Wednesday.
Farina charged Eurell with two counts of first-degree arson, 10 counts of second-degree arson and two counts of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant. A conviction for first-degree arson counts as a strike under Washington’s “three strikes ” law.
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Eurell pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in Superior Court.
Judge Katherine Stolz ordered him jailed with bail set at $1 million .
Eurell began setting fire in late April to shrubs and trees in people’s yards in Northeast Tacoma , according to the charging documents. The blazes continued through May, the documents state.
Two of the fires either spread or threatened to spread to houses, according to the charging papers, resulting in the first-degree arson charges.
On May 27, Eurell called 911 to report someone starting a fire in his neighborhood, Farina wrote. Eurell gave a detailed description of the alleged arsonist. On June 7, he called 911 again to report seeing a suspicious vehicle in his neighborhood.
After his second call, authorities began to suspect him in the earlier fires and interviewed him Tuesday, according to court papers.
“The defendant initially denied setting the fires, but, when confronted with evidence, he admitted that he had in fact set all the fires, and on three occasions was accompanied by his juvenile brother,” court records state. “The defendant admitted that he called 911 and made false reports because ‘I wanted to lead you guys onto a different trail.’ ”
His 16-year-old brother was booked into the Remann Hall juvenile detention center Tuesday.
He is charged with one count each of first- degree arson and second-degree arson. Juvenile officials will hold a hearing July 7 to determine whether his case should be transferred to adult court, deputy prosecutor Alicia Burton said.
Eurell also told detectives he has an anger problem, the documents state.