Vandal sets fire to Livingston Enterprise press room
Thu, 08/03/2017 - 5:00am admin
By Liz Kearney and Dwight Harriman / Yellowstone Newspapers
A 17-year-old suspected of breaking into The Livingston Enterprise press room and starting a fire will also be charged with at least two counts of criminal mischief. These charges are related to recent acts of vandalism around Livingston, a Livingston Police Department spokesman said Monday.
In addition to The Enterprise, the Big Horn County News is also printed at the Livingston site.
LPD Sgt. Mike Labaty said the charges would be filed by Park County Attorney Bruce Becker. Becker did not immediately return a call to The Enterprise seeking comment.
The juvenile was arrested early Saturday morning following a fire in the back shop of The Enterprise, where the printing press is located.
City officials provided the following information in a Monday news release:
“A seventeen-year-old Livingston resident was found to be a witness at the scene. Livingston Police officers, along with a Park County deputy, spoke with and eventually detained the male. The male was taken to the Livingston Police Department where he was interviewed by a Livingston Police Detective,” the release stated.
The juvenile was charged with arson, burglary and possession of burglary tools in connection with the Enterprise incident, Labaty said Monday.
Officials did not release the suspect’s name, citing a tradition of not releasing the names of those under 18 charged with a crime.
The Enterprise continues to seek the 17-year-old’s identity, however.
“There is no statute authorizing a law enforcement agency to keep the name of a juvenile confidential,” Montana Freedom of Information Hotline attorney Mike Meloy said in an email Monday.
The fire – and the subsequent discharge of water by the sprinkler system – caused substantial damage to the press.
The fire was discovered around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
The suspect is being held at the juvenile detention center in Billings.
No Enterprise employees were working at the time of the break-in.
Law enforcement officials from both the Livingston Police Department and the Park County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene at The Enterprise.
Park County Sheriff Scott Hamilton said Deputy/Medic Ryan Call, who responded to the scene, has extensive training in fire investigation. Call observed the burn patterns and other evidence at the scene, but Hamilton would not release further details at this time as the investigation is still underway.
From evidence at the scene, it appears the following took place:
• Someone tried to burn large rolls of paper on the back loading dock, but only charred them. The person entered the press room by breaking the window on a back door, then reaching in to unlock the door. There, an effort was made to light additional rolls of paper, but again, the rolls were only charred.
• At some point, an individual started a fire on one of the press units, which contained a large roll of paper, severely damaging the unit and the large roll of paper in it.
• An individual sprinkled foot powder all over the inserter machine, which inserts ad sections into papers. Someone also burned a keyboard used on the inserter.
The building’s sprinkler system deployed, which put the fire out before firefighters arrived, Livingston Fire and Rescue Chief Ken MacInnes said Monday.
Sunday morning, the smell of burned paper hung in the air, partially burned and soggy rolls of paper, along with small pools of water, lay on the floor, and the charred remains of press parts were visible in the burned unit.
Meanwhile, another vandalism incident was reported after the arson suspect had been arrested. Officials with the Livingston Golf Course reported that someone had taken a putter and used it as a driver “and knocked chunks of sod out” of the No. 7 green, Hamilton said Monday.