Log In

Reset Password

Police: Fort Lewis College student admits to campus arsons

Suspect faces multiple charges related to March 10 blazes
Surveillance footage shows a suspect walking with what appears to be a bucket about the time a law enforcement patrol vehicle was set on fire March 10 at Fort Lewis College. FLC police have made an arrest in connection with the fire. (Courtesy of Fort Lewis College Police Department)

A Moab man has been arrested on suspicion of setting two fires at Fort Lewis College.

Zane Maher-Young, a 20-year-old Fort Lewis College student, gave a detailed confession after being arrested Thursday by campus police, according to an arrest affidavit filed in 6th Judicial District Court.

“We recognize it has been a tense few days for all of the FLC community,” FLC Police Chief Brett Deming wrote in an email to students. “We would like to thank all of the agencies involved, including those who provided support throughout this, including the Fort Lewis College Physical Plant.”

Demming declined to comment further when reach Monday by The Durango Herald, saying the investigation remains active.

During the early hours of March 10, Durango Fire Protection District responded to a fire at the press box at Ray Dennison Memorial Field.

Fire Chief Randy Black told The Durango Herald on March 11 that crews noticed some of the press box windows had been shattered – a sign of forced entry.

A police vehicle was set ablaze the night of March 10 at Fort Lewis College. Police have made an arrest in connection with the fire. (Reuben M. Schafir/Durango Herald file)

Later that day, at about 11:30 p.m., Durango Fire responded to an FLC police vehicle engulfed in flames. Fire officials quickly determined the fire was started from outside the vehicle and was human-caused.

An FLC surveillance camera captured footage of the suspect who was seen the night of March 10.

According to an arrest affidavit, Maher-Young’s mother called FLC police at 7:05 p.m. Thursday. to report her son started the fires and that he wanted to turn himself in.

The mother said she was concerned for Maher-Young’s well-being after a recent phone call she had with her son. FLC police officer Jake Hampton was dispatched to a citizen assist call and found Maher-Young stating that he wanted to turn himself in at Noble Hall.

Hampton and Thomas met Maher-Young outside Noble Hall and detained the suspect. He was taken to Aspen Hall where officers interviewed the suspect.

In the interview, Maher-Young told officers he was responsible for the fires and acted alone, according to the affidavit.

Maher-Young told officers he filled a cooler with gasoline at the Marathon gas station located near the Silver Peaks Condominium complex and then set the press box at Ray Dennison Memorial Field on fire, according to the affidavit. He said he broke the press box window with a screwdriver and a rock before pouring the gasoline through the broken window and lighting it, according to the affidavit.

He proceeded to bust out a window on the other side for ventilation.

The affidavit says Maher-Young admitted to being under the influence of 12 to 13 Xanax pills between March 8 and March 10, which he purchased online. The affidavit later says that Maher-Young was disappointed with the result of the press box fire and returned to the scene in an attempt to light it on fire again.

But when he returned to the press box he was scared off by the sight of a Fort Lewis College patrol car.

Maher-Young said he fled the scene, walking by the patrol vehicle, believing the press box had become too risky of a target, the affidavit says. After, walking by the patrol vehicle undetected, he came to believe an unoccupied police vehicle in the on-campus police station parking lot would be an easier target.

According to his confession, Maher-Young returned to the gas station to refill the cooler and then went to his room in Animas Hall to retrieve two homemade M80 explosive devices. He taped the devices to both sides of the cooler.

He then drove to the football stadium parking lot where he walked over to an unoccupied patrol vehicle that was parked next to a truck at Aspen Hall. The affidavit says his original plan was to place the device under the patrol unit but it would not fit. So he placed the device between two vehicles and lit the device.

After 10 seconds, the device exploded and Maher-Young fled the scene, which included swimming across a pond east of Aspen Hall, according to the affidavit. Maher-Young then returned to his room, showered and removed his clothes before returning to the football field parking lot to retrieve his vehicle.

The arrest affidavit says after driving away from the parking lot, Maher-Young was pulled over by a La Plata County Sheriff’s Office deputy. Maher-Young thought for sure he was going to be arrested because his vehicle smelled like marijuana, gasoline and he was high on Xanax.

But he said he was let off with a warning and drove back to the Animas Hall parking lot.

The affidavit does not indicate why Maher-Young was pulled over.

During his confession, Maher-Young allegedly admitted to being a “pyro.” He said he built four or five of the M80 devices over the holiday break and then brought them back to campus, keeping them in his desk drawer. He also admitted to setting them off previously. More recently, he did so near the campus disc golf course two weeks prior to the fires.

FLC police arrested Maher-Young on charges of first-degree arson and criminal mischief for the press box fire and second-degree arson, possession of a bomb, criminal mischief, unlawful carrying of a weapon and reckless endangerment for the vehicle explosion.

Maher-Young was being held Monday at the La Plata County Jail on $100,000 bail and is prohibited from being within a mile of Fort Lewis College.


An earlier version of this story omitted FLC Police Chief Brett Demming’s first name and job title. The error was made in editing.

Reader Comments