• Suspect to police: SUV was too loud, so he burned it

    By: USA Today

    Updated:

    LIVONIA, Mich. — Police say a Michigan man admitted to torching a sport-utility vehicle last month because, in his words, "It was way too loud."

    Jonathan Bingham, 26, of Livonia, Michigan, faces a charge of fourth-degree arson, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. Arrested shortly after the fire, Bingham waived a preliminary hearing in Livonia's 16th District Court and was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday. 

    He was being held Tuesday in the Wayne County, Michigan, jail on a $50,000 bond.

    The fire, which destroyed a 1998 Ford Explorer, occurred early May 29. No one was hurt and Livonia firefighters extinguished the blaze.

    According to a Livonia Police Department report, a man was awakened by a noise outside his house around 2:30 a.m. He went outside and saw another man pouring something on the Explorer and lighting it.

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    He confronted the man, who fled, police said. The witness then found a bicycle leaning in the bushes on his property, that did not belong to him.

    The Explorer was fully engulfed when a police officer arrived.

    Police used a tracking dog to search for a suspect, but Bingham soon called the police station's front desk to report that his bicycle had been stolen, the report said. He gave police his location and officers found him near a car wash in Redford Township, Michigan. 

    Bingham was wearing clothes as described by the witness — red basketball shorts and no shirt, police said.

    He initially told police that he didn't know who had stolen his bike and was very angry and was trying to find the thief, police said.

    Under further questioning, however, Bingham said he set the fire. He said the Explorer travels through his neighborhood and is "extremely noisy," the police report said.

    He found out where it was parked.

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    "I wasn't going to do nothing at first and then I got into this whole thing that popped off and then I kind of set it on fire," police quote Bingham as saying.

    Asked why he set the fire, Bingham said, "It was way too loud, it was waking me up."

    Questioned by a detective later, Bingham said he had been drunk earlier in the day and riding his bicycle with a man he knows as Mad Mike, who had complained about the Explorer and said he would pay someone to set it on fire.

    "I was intoxicated with that idea in my head," Bingham said in a written statement, adding that he bought $2 worth of gasoline and set the Explorer on fire, the police report said.

    However Capt. Ron Taig, who is in charge of the police department's investigative division, said police investigated the Mad Mike angle and could not substantiate it.

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    "I don't understand why I pursued burning someone property," Bingham wrote, according to the police report. "I never done it before and will never do it again."

    Police found a plastic gas can and a mug that smelled of gasoline, like those Bingham said he used in setting the fire.

    The Explorer's owner told police he drove the vehicle home from work and parked it in front of his house about midnight. He said he did not know anyone matching Bingham's description.

    Follow Matt Jachman on Twitter: @mattjachman

     

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