Penn Township man accused of trying to torch home
Penn Township police thwarted what could have been a double homicide early Friday by quickly responding to a report of a dispute between neighbors.
Police Chief John Otto said Kevin A. Johnson, 35, had doused his neighbor's porch and sport utility vehicle with gasoline but had not ignited the fuel when officers arrived and Johnson surrendered.
“This guy, very plainly, said had you not shown up, his intent was to set that house on fire with them inside,” Otto said. “Who knows what chain of events would've kicked off if this guy would've lit the match.”
Officers were dispatched to the escalating dispute at 1:40 a.m. and arrived five minutes later, Otto said.
Johnson is charged with attempted homicide, attempted arson and related counts.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Johnson picked up his 34-year-old neighbor, who is five months pregnant, from a restaurant in Monroeville, and they went to his home on Kennedy Drive, a residential neighborhood.
Later, the pair went to the woman's nearby home, police said.
A 45-year-old man in the home was yelling about the tires on his pickup being sliced. Police said Johnson claimed he damaged the tires.
During an argument, Johnson punched a hole in a wall at the victims' home, head-butted the man and punched the woman in the stomach, then ran back to his home to retrieve a gas can, Detective Todd DeNillo wrote in the affidavit.
Otto said the relationship between the suspect and victims was unclear, and Johnson refused to discuss it with police.
Johnson allegedly poured gasoline on the vehicle and the front door and porch of the victims' home while they were inside, according to the affidavit.
“Johnson said he was going to burn the house down and kill them inside,” DeNillo wrote in the affidavit. “Johnson was going to light the gasoline with his lighter when police arrived, interrupting him from doing so.”
When police arrived, Johnson tossed the gas can onto his property and surrendered.
“I pour gas on that (expletive)'s house,” Johnson said to police, according to the affidavit. “I wanted to burn and kill everyone in that house.”
Both of the victims are OK, Otto said.
Johnson is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on $250,000 bail.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 24 before District Judge Helen Kistler.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.