Crime

Prosser man wanted his wife out of the house, so he poured 5 gallons of gas on it, say police

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If you have a fire in your home, the advice is simple, according to Sacramento Fire Department: Get out, stay out, call 911. Don’t try to put the fire out yourself. And never go back into a building on fire. Have a plan and practice with your family.

A Prosser man allegedly poured a 5-gallon can of gasoline on his home and threatened to burn it down during an argument with his wife.

Two kids were asleep in bed at the time, show court documents.

Kirk D. Riddle Jr., 48, has pleaded innocent in Benton County Superior Court to attempted second-degree arson and felony harassment with threats to kill.

He is locked up on $25,000 bail.

A family member told police that the only reason Riddle didn’t go through with lighting the gas on fire on Aug. 13 is because he was chasing his wife while she was on the phone with 911 emergency dispatchers.

His wife said he had been sending her disparaging text messages earlier in the day, then came home and told her to leave or he would set fire to their South Missimer Road house, according to court documents.

There were five other relatives at home at the time, including the two kids.

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Kirk D. Riddle Jr. Washington Department of Corrections

When the wife didn’t leave, Riddle went outside and grabbed the full gas can. He then poured it all over the house while screaming about starting a fire, documents said.

The relatives later “expressed great fear” of him and indicated they were terrified he would follow through on the threat with them inside the house.

Riddle’s trial is scheduled Oct. 7. He has been ordered to surrender all guns and to have no contact with the six family members.

Illegal gun possession

Riddle previously served a 1 1/2-year sentence for pulling a rifle on law enforcement sheriff’s deputies and leading officers on a destructive hourlong car chase.

In that case, he pleaded guilty to attempting to elude police and two counts of illegal gun possession. At the time, he had a prior conviction for assault with a weapon and was wanted on a felony warrant in Montana.

Benton County sheriff’s deputies and U.S. Marshals went to the same Prosser property in December 2015 on a tip that Riddle was there, and were given permission to look for him in a trailer.

A deputy was about to enter when there was “the sound of a long gun slide being racked,” said court documents in that case.

Riddle refused to come out, instead responding with an expletive and ordered the deputies to leave. Several people were evacuated from the main home while deputies surrounded the trailer.

When Riddle came out naked and holding a rifle, a deputy fired several shots at him because he refused to drop the weapon, documents said. Riddle was not hit and ran into the house.

At some point during the standoff, Riddle’s sister allegedly backed up a Chevy Suburban to the front door and left it running and Riddle got inside.

He took off through a neighbor’s pasture, damaging fences, gates and irrigation pipes in the process. The chase covered back roads, rural terrain and Interstate 82 through Benton and Yakima counties.

Riddle ran stop signs, veered into oncoming traffic, almost hitting three cars, and came close to hitting a person as he drove through their driveway.

Even though the SUV was damaged and dragging parts of a fence, Riddle kept driving until he was hit by the Tri-City Regional SWAT Team’s BearCat armored vehicle.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.
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