GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Police in Grants Pass arrested a man on Sunday after he allegedly tried to set the pumps at a gas station on fire and broke into a nearby business.
Shortly after 7 p.m. on Sunday, the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety started receiving 911 calls from the Pacific Pride station at 505 Rogue River Highway. Around the same time, an alarm call came in from the nearby Industrial Source Welding Supply shop on 85 Fruitdale Drive.
Polcie and firefighters responded to the area, and further calls reported that a man was responsible for both a fire at Pacific Pride and a burglary at the welding supply store.
"This male subject had used a gas pump to spray fuel into the air and directly onto the pumps," GPDPS said. "The gas pump had been taken from a citizen's vehicle who had been filling her tank. He then tried to start a fire numerous times, until he was successful. The male subject then ran to the welding supply and shattered the front glass door to make unlawful entry to the business."
With the help of witnesses, police tracked down the suspect and took him into custody near the intersection of Fruitdale Drive and Williams Highway. He was identified as 44-year-old Joshua Lee Leach — a transient with a last known address in Pennsylvania.
Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the fire at Pacific Pride, preventing "what could have been a large explosion," GPDPS said. The GPDPS Fire Marshal responded to help at the scene. According to the agency, damage was limited to one island at the fueling station, and firefighters otherwise ensured that the area was safe.
Following an investigation and gathering of witness statements, police charged Leach with three counts of Arson in the First Degree, Burglary in the Second Degree, Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, Reckless Endangering, Unlawful entry to a Motor Vehicle, two counts of Theft in the Third Degree, and Disorderly Conduct.
"We extend our thanks to the citizens who observed the suspect and remained in the area to talk with officers and assist with the investigation of this case," GPDPS said. "Luckily there were no injuries and as a result of the rapid response of police and fire units, the fire was contained and the suspect was stopped before he created more hazards and citizens were injured."
The agency asked that any witnesses to these incidents to please call (541) 450-6260 and reference Case # 2021-9229.