A man in Tacoma was apparently angry that a friend’s hardware store is being driven out of business. He decided to get even by attempting to burn down Shoreline Home Depot.
King County prosecutors say that 53-year-old Randol W. Stebner started two small fires near the Aurora Avenue North superstore on May 14.
According to charging documents, Stebner admitted to lighting the fires and said he’d do it again.
“I am upset with Home Depot because they are making business difficult for my friend,” Stebner said in a written confession, according to charging documents.
“I know there are people in the store now,” he continued. “I don’t want to hurt them, but I have to get their mother (expletive) attention. I only set one fire, but I want to set a couple more.”
Stebner is accused of lighting a small paper bag on fire near the Home Depot loading dock, then attempting to start another fire in an adjacent wooded area. Neither fire really took; both were extinguished before firefighters arrived.
A King County arson investigator noted that several Home Depot employees spoke with Stebner minutes before the fire. In each case, Stebner is alleged to have complained the chain was ruining his friend’s Rockford, Ill., hardware store.
At 1:40 p.m. the day of the fires, King County deputies and Shoreline firefighters were called to the Home Depot following a report of a man lighting paper on fire there.
Deputies arrested Stebner nearby. According to charging documents, Stebner – who may have been drunk at the time – immediately admitted to starting the fires.
“I am going to burn Home Depot to the mother (expletive) ground,” Stebner is alleged to have told one deputy.
While the damage caused was minimal, the arson investigator noted that the fires forced police and fire units to rush to the area and needlessly used firefighters’ time.
Stebner remains jailed on $75,000 bail, in part because of his lengthy criminal record. He has been charged with attempted second-degree arson and has not yet entered a plea.