Suspect accused of setting mobile homes on fire intended ‘suicide by cop’
DENVER — An arrest affidavit obtained by FOX31 details the circumstances regarding the actions of a mobile home resident who reportedly intentionally set his neighbor’s home on fire and planted multiple bombs inside the property.
Multiple explosive devices were found inside one of the mobile homes that was set on fire in the 2000 block of Moselle Street in Federal Heights on Wednesday afternoon.
The Adams County bomb squad remained on the scene Thursday to make sure the scene was safe.
Steven Truetken, 56, was in custody after he told police he set a neighbor’s home on fire and then his own.
He also told them there were homemade bombs inside.
As stated in the affidavit, the resident of the home that was set on fire said that Truetken broke out the home’s living room window and then “poured, sprayed and threw containers of gasoline into her home” before setting it on fire.
The homeowner said that the path to the mobile home’s door was blocked and she and her two children, as well as the family dog, were forced to escape through a window.
The devices proved to be volatile. Personnel from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were at the scene in a support role, collecting samples for testing in its laboratory.
When police confronted Truetken, he said that he had dropped “bombs” and a BB gun outside one of the nearby houses, claiming he didn’t want firemen or children to get hurt, according to the affidavit.
The suspect admitted to starting the fire and told authorities he also had pipe bombs in his own home.
When interviewed, Truetken told officers that he has “significant medical issues” and is under psychiatric care. He also said that in the past he took prescribed psychotic medications but he stopped taking the drugs when he ran out of the money to pay for them.
He acknowledged that he “feels clearer of mind without the meds” although he has other medical issues.
Truetken said that he planned out scenarios to burn down the homes of two of his neighbors he felt were intentionally antagonizing him by playing loud music and training a dog to bark at him.
He also admitted to planning “suicide by cop” by planting pipe bombs around his home and stacking wood throughout the residence. Because he felt he could no longer take care of himself, Truetken decided to carry out his plan Wednesday. He poured gasoline throughout his home and set it on fire.
He then took several small pipe bombs as well as a baseball bat to break out his neighbor’s window and carry out the following attack.
He told police he didn’t know there were children in the home until after he set it on fire. He did admit that he saw a woman in the mobile home when he sprayed gas through the window.
The suspect told officers that he took his dog from his home and walked about a block away to watch the fire. He brought his BB gun with him, intending to pull the gun on officers in the hopes they would fatally shoot him.
He then said he gave up when it occurred to him that his dog might be wounded in the confrontation.
In an interview with the victims of the fire, they allege Truetken attempted to spray one of the children with gasoline and also doused the family dog before setting the fire.
The victim said the suspect lifted his shirt to expose the gun he had in his waistband. The victim’s son snapped a picture of the suspect after the family had successfully escaped their burning home.
For hours, residents were told to stay back and evacuate their homes.
“A policeman came and said ‘Hey, get the hell out of here,’” another neighbor said. “They found another bomb, sizable bomb.”
Neighbors said the suspect kept to himself.
“It’s very quiet, nothing, just ‘Hi, hi’ and go take the bus and come back. I never see him talking to anybody or nothing,” a neighbor said.
In 2012, a different neighbor said that his 8-year-old daughter was brought to tears by Truetken after he “gave the middle finger” to her. The girl’s father confronted the suspect, telling him not to harass his child.
The man claims Truetken responded with a vulgarity and also insulted his religion. The man said that this was not an isolated incident and he had taken Truetken to court in the past for harassment.
Truetken has had multiple run-ins with police and previously threatened to goad officers into “suicide by cop.”
He also pleaded guilty to a felony menacing with a weapon charge in 2012.
He faces multiple charges, including criminal attempted second-degree murder, according to the Federal Heights Police Department. He is being held on a $1 million bond.