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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Officer targeted in arson incident

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  • A member of the police department has been targeted in a series of crimes that Police Chief Felix Hernandez has termed a vendetta.
     
    The most recent event took place early Thursday morning when Officer Stephen Holland's pick-up truck was set on fire while parked at city hall. The blaze, which was called into dispatch at 3:45 a.m., totaled the vehicle. Two weeks ago, Hernandez said the back window of Holland's pick-up was shot out while also at city hall.
     
    "I am very concerned," Hernandez said. "When officers are targeted for personal vendettas, it becomes very serious because you don't know what it can lead to.
     
    "Right now, we don't have any suspects but we will be looking at some people that may have a motive. I believe it could have been related to a past arrest. He had just gotten his back window fixed and then it is torched."
     
    Hernandez said he has contacted the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Carter County Sheriff's Department for possible assistance in the investigation. The department also has videotape from a nearby business that it is reviewing in an effort to identify a suspect. The state fire marshal has also been called in for help.
     
    "The caller reported to dispatch a vehicle was engulfed in flames," Hernandez said. "We don't know the specifics of the fire and we have called the fire marshal to investigate and determine the cause of the arson."
     
    Holland was on patrol when the fire was called in. He said the truck was parked at nearly the same place when the back window was shot out.
     
    Thursday night's fire was not the first time an act of arson has taken place at city hall. Hernandez said two years ago someone set fire to a water department truck in the old fire station bay at the back of city hall. Accelerants were placed on the seat and the case remains unsolved.
     
    Mayor Frank Schaaf said he would bring up the possibility of purchasing cameras and installing them at city hall.
     
    "I have looked at them before and they are pricey, but city hall is pricey, too," he said. "I think it is a crying shame you have to go to this extent to protect someone's property. It is very sad. We will be looking at this very closely."

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