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Charges: Man barricaded roommate in apartment, set it on fire

Criminal charges were filed Thursday against a Salt Lake man who police say barricaded the door of his apartment and lit it on fire while others were still inside.

Criminal charges were filed Thursday against a Salt Lake man who police say barricaded the door of his apartment and lit it on fire while others were still inside. (Shutterstock)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake man was charged Thursday with trapping his roommate inside a bedroom and then setting their apartment on fire, forcing the roommate and others to jump out a second-story window to safety.

Gabriel Adam Sandoval, 23, is charged in 3rd District Court with aggravated arson, a first-degree felony; two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of possession of a weapon by a restricted person, and assault by a prisoner, all third-degree felonies; and criminal mischief, a class B misdemeanor.

On Sept. 21, one of Sandoval's roommates arrived home to learn that Sandoval was "breaking items" in their apartment and had barricaded the door, according to charging documents. The roommate went to his second-floor bedroom window, pushed out an air conditioning unit and crawled through the window where he found his girlfriend had locked herself inside the room.

The roommate then entered the living room where he saw something was on fire and attempted to stomp it out. As he was doing that, Sandoval hit him on the head with a stick or pole, the charges state. The roommate retreated back to the bedroom and locked the door.

While in the bedroom, smoke started coming inside the room.

"Everyone is going to die today. I'm going to burn everything," Sandoval yelled, according to the charges.

The roommate, his girlfriend and their dog then jumped out the bedroom window because "the only door out of the apartment was barricaded," investigators wrote in the charging documents.

A short time later, Sandoval also jumped from a second story window with a machete in his hand, the charges state. He was injured in the fall.

Fire crews who responded to the complex said they were initially unable to enter the apartment because the door was barricaded with furniture.

"Believing Sandoval or others were inside the apartment, law enforcement and fire crews forced entry. Inside, they saw that the furniture placed in front of the door was still smoldering," according to charging documents.

The fire, which was determined to have been ignited in several locations, caused extensive damage to the living room and kitchen area and one person in a neighboring apartment had to be treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation, the charges state. Damage was estimated at more than $50,000.

After Sandoval jumped from the window, police say his brother first tried to take him to a mental health outpatient clinic and then to a victim's advocate center. While there, Sandoval allegedly claimed he had been injured in an auto-pedestrian accident and told the staff to call 911.

Officers responded to the scene, originally believing it was an auto-pedestrian accident. Sandoval's brother "told police that Sandoval was lying and Sandoval had just jumped out of a second story window after setting fire to their apartment. (He) stated that Sandoval was trying to 'throw the police off,'" according to the charges.

Officers said they learned that Sandoval had used methamphetamine the night before. He was taken to a local hospital and then booked into jail. While being booked, Sandoval allegedly became combative and kicked an officer in the leg.

Prosecutors have requested Sandoval be held without bail, noting in court documents that earlier in the summer, he intentionally crashed a car he was driving, which left his brother, who was in the passenger seat, unconscious. He later told his brother, "I was trying to kill you," the charges say.

He also had several warrants out for his arrest in other cases at the time the fire was set, according to police.

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