A Maryland police chief retired after decades on the force only to spend much of the next 10 years unleashing a series of arson attacks on his perceived enemies, according to a bevy of charges revealed on Wednesday.
David Crawford, 69, the former police chief of Laurel, Maryland, is accused of attempted murder and a dozen arsons from 2011 to 2020. He had resigned from the police department in 2010. He is charged with 20 felonies in Prince George’s county alone, according to the The Baltimore Sun—four counts of first-degree attempted murder, four counts of second-degree attempted murder, one count first-degree arson, five counts of second-degree arson, and six counts of malicious burning. But that is not the only jurisdiction where Crawford faces prosecution. He has been charged in Montgomery, Frederick, and Charles counties as well. He faces 32 felony counts in those three counties.
The arsons in question followed a pattern, police said: a hooded figure approached the target, poured gasoline from gallon jugs, and lit the flame with a stick wrapped in cloth.
In a statement released Wednesday, the Prince George’s County Fire Department said, “Through the course of the investigation, it was determined that the structures and vehicles that Crawford intentionally set on fire were connected to victims with whom he had previous disagreements.”
Crawford allegedly went after public officials, the police chief who replaced him, a woman who had taught a training program for his wife that mentioned “white privilege,” two doctors who formerly treated him for a back injury, a neighbor in Ellicott City, Maryland, and his own relatives, including a stepson, whose home he allegedly attacked three times. Crawford’s search history included the addresses of several of his intended victims, police said.
“All of the fires were at night. In six of the arsons, the victim and their families were inside their homes asleep,” the fire department statement continued. Investigators said Crawford hid his identity from surveillance cameras with hooded sweatshirts. He allegedly set aflame cars, garages, and homes.
Bizarrely, a LinkedIn account that appears to belong to Crawford paints a decidedly more cheerful picture of the alleged retired-police-chief-turned-arsonist. In the bio, Crawford describes himself as a “people lover” and lists one of his personal mottos as: “Find the positive.”
He also recalls important advice from a mentor: “95% of your challenges in law enforcement melt away if you remember to speak to people the way you would want to be spoken to and treat people the way you would want to be treated.”