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Ex-Police Chief Facing Over A Dozen Attempted Murder Charges For String Of Arsons

Laurel, MD – The former chief of the Laurel Police Department is facing more than a dozen attempted murder charges after authorities linked him to a series of arsons dating back 10 years.

Retired Laurel City Police Chief Dave Crawford has been linked to fires that were set in Prince George’s, Montgomery, Howard, Frederick, and Charles Counties between 2011 and 2020, WTTG reported.

Authorities said surveillance videos at various scenes captured a suspect with a hoodie pulled up tight who showed a similar pattern of behavior at the fires.

In the videos, the suspect carried jugs of gas and used a stick wrapped in fabric to start the blazes, WTTG reported.

All of the fires were set in the middle of the night, ABC News reported.

There was a break in the case recently when investigators discovered a link between some of the arson victims.

All of the victims had engaged in some kind of conflict with former Chief Crawford at some point in the past, WTTG reported.

“The break in the case came shortly after the last known fire in 2020 when a link between the victims was discovered and that eventually led investigators and detectives to Crawford,” Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department said in a press release on Wednesday, ABC News reported. “Through the course of the investigation, it was determined that the structures and vehicles that Crawford intentionally set on fire were connected to victims with whom he had previous disagreements.”

The retired police chief is facing multiple attempted murder charges because it was clear that people were at home in the residences when Crawford set the fires.

He has been charged with four counts of first-degree attempted murder, four counts of second-degree attempted murder, one count of first-degree arson, six counts of first-degree malicious burning, and five counts of second-degree arson for one fire he set in Laurel in Prince George’s County, WTTG reported.

Prosecutors charged Crawford in connection with three fires in Clarksburg in Montgomery County, including two he allegedly started at the same address.

He has been charged with three counts of first-degree arson, three counts of first-degree malicious burning, and one count of second-degree arson in that case, according to WTTG.

Crawford is facing eight counts of attempted murder in Howard County.

He also charged with eight counts of attempted second-degree murder, three counts of first-degree malicious burning, two counts of first-degree arson, two counts of second-degree arson, one count of second-degree malicious burning, and various other malicious destruction charges, WTTG reported.

Officials said investigators had linked Crawford to even more fires that were still under investigation.

Three of Crawford’s victims were law enforcement officials, including the Laure police chief who replaced him at the helm of that department, WTTG reported.

He also started fires at the home of a former Laurel city official, at the homes of two his own relatives, at the home of two of his previous chiropractors, and the residence of one of his neighbors.

Charging documents showed Crawford targeted his stepson in three of the Montgomery County fires, ABC News reported.

Crawford retired from the Laurel Police Department in 2010 for what the then-Laurel Mayor Craig Moe called “personal reasons,” WTTG reported.

He was placed on administrative leave until his retirement in November of that year.

Officials said Crawford has previously served as the police chief of the District Heights Police Department, too, ABC News reported.

He was arrested on March 4 and booked into the Howard County Department of Corrections.

Crawford will likely face additional charges in Charles County and in additional cases in which investigations were still ongoing, ABC News reported.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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