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Island County's SWAT team responds after man threatens to burn house down

North Whidbey resident Christopher Rogers appears in Island County Superior Court Wednesday with an attorney. The sheriff department
North Whidbey resident Christopher Rogers appears in Island County Superior Court Wednesday with an attorney. The sheriff department's SWAT team arrested him after he allegedly threatened to burn down his house.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

Deputies with the Island County Sheriff's Office unleashed their armored vehicle and donned SWAT gear Tuesday evening in response to a report that a mentally unstable man may have barricaded himself in a Crescent Harbor Road home with automatic weapons and cans of kerosene.

Sheriff Mark Brown said the incident ended well when the 29-year-old man gave himself up, but the situation was tense.

"It was pretty scary for awhile, because there could have been a different ending," he said. "It was a nail biter."

The suspect, Christopher Rogers, appeared in Island County Superior Court Wednesday afternoon. The judge found there was probable cause to hold him in jail on suspicion of felony harassment and attempted arson; he set bail at $50,000.

After reading the police report in court, Rogers loudly told his attorney that it wasn't accurate and that he had willingly come out of the house as soon as he realize the deputies were there.

Brown explained that Rogers' father and brother fled their home at E. Crescent Harbor Road Tuesday out of fear. The father then called 911 and reported that he was afraid Rogers was going to burn the house down.

The man said that Rogers had developed mental problems and was becoming increasingly paranoid and angry. Rogers had become upset the day before and brought home two five-gallon cans of kerosene. He allegedly told his younger brother that he was "planned on burning down the home down with possibly his father in it," according to a report by Lt. Mike Hawley.

Rogers flew into another rage Tuesday, precipitating the 911 call.

In addition to the kerosene, Rogers had an AK-47 rifle and two semi-automatic pistols in the house. He had installed many security cameras around the property and could monitor them from inside the house.

Given that information, Hawley decided to call in the department's emergency response team.

Brown said he watched the scene unfold and was very impressed with the team, which was led by Sgt. Mike Beech.

"He had a tactical plan and they executed it flawlessly," he said.

Brown said the department's armored vehicle, which he calls "the tank," led the way as the team approached the home at about 7 p.m. Rogers allegedly tried to escape out the back, but ran inside after seeing a deputy. He then went out the front door and surrendered following a short negotiations, the sheriff said.

The deputies found the guns and the kerosene in plain view inside Rogers' bedroom, Hawley wrote in his report.

In court, Senior Deputy Prosector Eric Ohme said Rogers was taken to the hospital for a mental evaluation, but was discharged because he wouldn't submit to a blood test.

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