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Affidavit: Federal Heights fire suspect was off meds, wanted to commit 'suicide by cop'

Posted at 11:31 AM, Jan 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-19 18:46:53-05

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. – The man accused of planting homemade bombs in his mobile home and lighting both his and a neighbor’s home on fire earlier this week will remain held in jail on a $1 million bond after his first court appearance Friday morning.

Steven Truetken, 56, had a public defender appointed to represent him in court Friday as the district attorney’s office asked Judge Michelle Martinez-Thomas for the million-dollar bond—above what was originally scheduled.

Prosecutors said there was a “grave risk” to the public should he be allowed out on bond, which the judge agreed with by the end of the hearing. The judge also granted a mandatory protection order for four neighbors whose home Truetken is accused of lighting aflame.

The affidavit for Truetken’s arrest was also released Friday, and shed more details on exactly what happened Wednesday night, including that Truetken said he’d wanted to commit “suicide by cop.”

The affidavit says that Truetken told police after his arrest that he had “significant medical issues” and was undergoing psychiatric care, but that his psychotic medication had run out because he was out of money.

After agreeing that he was aware of his rights and signing a written form, Truetken told police he built pipe bombs and had stacked wood across his house, planning to burn the mobile home “and commit ‘suicide by cop’,” the affidavit says.

“Steven went on to say that he could no longer take care of himself and decided to carry out his plan today,” the officer wrote in the affidavit.

He told police he first poured gasoline all over his house and lit it on fire. He took some of the pipe bombs he’d built and a BB gun, as well as his dog, then went next door.

There, he broke out his neighbor’s mobile home’s windows and started spraying gas all over their house as well. A woman and two children were inside at the time, and the affidavit says that one of them, a 13-year-old boy, almost had gas sprayed on him. When Truetken allegedly couldn’t reach the boy with the gas, he sprayed the family’s dog, the affidavit says.

He lit the neighbors’ home on fire and walked around opening all of its windows, increasing the oxygen flow to the fire, the affidavit says. The woman inside said Truetken also flashed a gun at her and her son.

The family was able to escape out of the home’s windows. The teenage boy was able to snap a photo of the man as he walked away with his dog, and the boy’s mother told police she knew Truetken from other incidents.

Truetken walked with his dog about a block away from the homes to watch the flames, where police confronted him once they arrived.

The affidavit says that Truetken told police afterward he intended “to pull the BB gun on the officers so that they would shoot him, but he was afraid that they would accidentally hurt his dog so he decided to give up.”

Local and federal officers worked to clear some of the dozen homemade bombs, and other homemade weapons, from the home Thursday, and the work was expected to continue Friday.

Court records obtained by Denver7 show Truetken has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1982. Records show he has been charged with burglary, traffic violations including DUI, third-degree assault, carrying a concealed weapon, harassment, resisting arrest, obstructing a peace officer, among others.

In 2012, he pleaded guilty to a felony menacing with a weapon charge.

Truetken is being investigated for a slew of charges, including attempted second-degree murder. He will learn the formal charges he faces at his next court appearance, which was scheduled Friday for Jan. 23.