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Homeless man with flamethrower threatens gas station attendant

Police said suspect told victim he could burn her ‘right now’
Roberson

FARMINGTON – Farmington police have charged a homeless man on suspicion of threatening to burn down a gas station with a flamethrower.

Tito Roberson, 28, was arrested March 18 and charged with aggravated assault; resisting, evading or obstructing an officer; petty larceny shoplifting and concealed identity. He also had two outstanding arrest warrants.

He is being held at San Juan County Adult Detention Center, according to the jail’s website.

Officers responded at 2:14 p.m. Feb. 18 to the Conoco at 1000 W. Main St., where people reported Roberson was throwing rocks at the building and threatening to burn the place down, according to the Farmington Police Department’s case report.

When police arrived, they were told Roberson left the area and were pointed in the direction of his last known whereabouts.

Police interviewed the gas station attendant, who said the suspect had been asking customers for money. The attendant asked the man to leave, but he returned with a propane torch, according to the report. He backed the attendant into the gas station and lit the torch as she yelled for him to stop, police said.

“Tito advanced with the torch still lit and was yelling at her saying, ‘I could burn you right now,’ and then threatening to burn down the whole store,” the report said. A second store clerk yelled for Roberson to stop, but he turned toward her, with the torch turned on, then grabbed eight lighters from a case and left the store, according to the report.

When police made contact with Roberson on the south side of Main Street, Roberson took off running, according to the report. Police initiated a foot pursuit, during which Roberson allegedly threw an unknown object from his pocket. Police said Roberson slowed down until one officer pointed his Taser at the suspect and ordered him to get down. Roberson did so and was taken into custody without further incident, according to the report.

Police were unable to locate the object he threw.

On March 3, Roberson’s attorney, listed by the Farmington Magistrate Court as John T. Beckstead, raised the question whether Roberson was competent to stand trial. Presiding Judge Mark Steven Hawkinson ordered a competency evaluation and transferred the case to 11th Judicial District Court.

mmitchell@durangoherald.com

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