Arson charged in boat burning

• In police standoff, suicidal man surrendered but boat exploded
By Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

A Voznesenka man was charged with first-degree arson in connection with a police standoff and suicide threat that resulted in the near total loss of his father’s fishing vessel.
Mike Makai Martushoff, 58, remains hospitalized from burn injuries sustained in the alleged suicide-arson threat case. But Homer Police asked an Alaska District Court judge on Monday to grant an arrest warrant to press charges prior to his discharge from an Anchorage hospital.
At about 8:10 p.m. on Oct. 29, Homer Police received a 911 call from a woman in the Russian Old Believer village of Voznesenka saying that her brother, Martushoff, was threatening to burn her father’s boat, the Slava II, and to kill himself in the process, Sgt. Lary Kuhns wrote in his police affidavit. The woman told police her brother was aboard the vessel stored at Northern Enterprises Boat Yard. When officers arrived, they found the Slava II stored in close proximity to other vessels.
As police officers approached the vessel, they heard a loud “bang” and detected the odor associated with a flammable compound. “Unsure where the odor was coming from, (an officer) recognized the odor as that of a flammable liquid,” the report states.
The officers verified it was a flammable compound and called out for Martushoff. They received no response, according to the affidavit.
Officers then climbed aboard an adjacent vessel to the Slava II and tried to illuminate the area with a flashlight, but didn’t see anyone. A voice then came from the Slava II stating that he didn’t want to hurt anyone.
“The male, later identified as Mike Martushoff, advised the officers that he was armed with a shotgun and was intending to burn himself and the Slava II,” police said.
Officers then spoke with him via cell phone from a safe distance. The suspect told police he was drinking Vodka.
Meanwhile, members of the Homer Volunteer Fire Department and Kachemak Emergency Services stood by, also from a safe distance, with their firefighting equipment.
During 34 cell phone conversations over a four-hour period, the suspect reportedly asked police several times to shoot him. He also allegedly stated he intended to burn the Slava II because he was having issues with his father and called him “a son of a bitch.” Martushoff reportedly told officers if he burned the boat, then his father wouldn’t be able to have it.
At one point in a phone conversation, Martushoff told police if they contact his girlfriend, he would reconsider his intentions. As a sign of good faith, Martushoff was asked to toss his weapon out of the vessel. The suspect indicated he didn’t possess any firearms, according to the police affidavit.
After four hours of cell phone conversations in the police standoff, police were able to persuade the man to climb down the ladder from the Slava II and raise his hands in the air. But he reportedly turned around and reboarded the vessel.
A half-hour later, an explosion occurred onboard near the stern of the vessel. Attempts to contact Martushoff were unsuccessful, police said.
Around 1:12 a.m., Martushoff was taken into custody and transported to South Peninsula Hospital for treatment of his burns. He later was transported to another hospital where, as of Monday, he remained.
According to police interviews with witnesses, the suspect had threatened to kill family members and an attorney and to burn down their homes prior to the Oct. 29 events.
Due to the severity of the threats and the loss of the Slava II, worth $550,000 in total value, police requested the arrest warrant. The 48-foot commercial fishing vessel was uninsured.
As of press time, police were unable to confirm the arrest warrant had yet been served.
A search of court records show charges for alleged fishing and hunting violations, but no other criminal charges.

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Posted by on Dec 5th, 2012 and filed under Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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