Gary Stephen Maynard, university professor, accused of setting fire to California
SACRAMENTO, California – A college professor suspected of being in a spate of arson has been accused of starting a small fire in a forest near the huge Dixie Fire in Northern California.
Gary Stephen Maynard was arrested last weekend following an investigation that began on July 20 and included a US Forest Service agent placing a tracking device under his car after he was briefly arrested by police on 3 August, the Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday.
Maynard, 47, is accused of intentionally starting the ranch fire in Lassen County on Saturday, according to the criminal complaint. Maynard has denied setting it on fire, court documents show. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer who can speak on his behalf.
The Bee said Maynard taught briefly at Santa Clara University and Sonoma State University, where a Gary Maynard was on the roster of criminal justice studies professors specializing in criminal justice. , sects and deviant behavior. He is no longer with any school.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman said the nature of the case suggested there could be mental health issues at stake and ordered Maynard to remain in custody pending a hearing on Wednesday.
According to court documents, Maynard first came to the attention of authorities on July 20 after the waterfall fire was reported on the western slopes of Mount Shasta.
US Forest Service investigator Brian Murphy responded to the scene and found a man later identified as Maynard under a black Kia Soul whose front wheels were stuck in a ditch and its undercarriage centered on a rock, according to court documents.
Maynard denied knowing anything about the fire and was at times “uncooperative and agitated,” according to the documents.
A second fire broke out the next day on Mount Shasta, and investigators later found tire tracks similar to those made by the Kia, according to court documents.
Investigators followed Maynard’s San Jose address, where police said a resident called them in October 2020 “with concerns about their colleague, Maynard, who worked as a professor at the University of Santa Clara, ”court documents indicate.
“This concerned citizen told officers Maynard told him he suffered from anxiety, depression, split personality and wanted to kill himself,” according to an affidavit. “This concerned citizen said Maynard had moved and may be living somewhere outside of his vehicle.”
Authorities then began tracking Maynard’s movements and eventually obtained a warrant to place a tracking device on his car. Investigators have tracked his movements for hundreds of miles, including the area where the Ranch and Conard fires broke out in the Lassen National Forest on Saturday.
“It appeared Maynard was in the midst of a wave of arson attacks,” court documents said. He is only responsible for lighting the Ranch Fire.
Maynard was arrested inside the emergency closure area forced by the month-old Dixie Fire on Saturday, the Bee reported.
“He entered the evacuation area and started setting fire behind first responders fighting the Dixie fire,” Assistant US Attorney Michael Anderson wrote in a detention memo. “In addition to the danger of expanding the Dixie fire and threatening more lives and property, it has increased the danger to first responders.”
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