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Former Md. police chief charged in 12 arsons, some targeting other LEOs

Officials said the arsons spanned four counties and nine years, the most recent being in 2020

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Photo/Howard County Executive Calvin Ball

Ana Faguy
Howard County Times, Columbia, Md.

HOWARD COUNTY, Md. — Former Laurel Police Chief David Crawford was arrested Wednesday and is facing attempted murder charges in connection with multiple arsons.

Crawford is being charged with 12 arsons that took place from 2011 to 2020 involving multiple homes, vehicles and residential garages in Howard, Prince George’s, Frederick and Montgomery counties.

The Prince George’s County Police Department said each case was investigated separately, and Crawford is being charged in each of the jurisdictions where the fires took place.

Police said, through their investigation, they determined the intentional fires were connected to individuals with whom Crawford had disagreements. The victims include a former Laurel official, three former law enforcement officials including a former Laurel police chief, two relatives, two of Crawford’s former physicians and a resident in his neighborhood.

No one was injured in any of the 12 fires, said Jennifer Donelan, Prince George’s County fire spokesperson.

Crawford served as the Laurel police chief from 2006 until his resignation in 2010.

Police said multiple agencies — including the Prince George’s County Arson Task Force and county police and fire departments from Howard, Prince George’s, Frederick and Montgomery — arrested Crawford, 69, Wednesday at his Ellicott City home.

In six of the arsons, police said the victims and their families were inside the homes. Because there were clear signs individuals were home at the time of the fires, police in Howard and Prince George’s charged Crawford with attempted murder.

In Prince George’s, Crawford is charged with 20 felonies, including four counts of first-degree attempted murder, four counts of second-degree attempted murder, one count of first-degree arson, six counts of first-degree malicious burning and five counts of second-degree arson.

In Montgomery County, he is charged with seven felonies, including three counts of first-degree arson, three counts of first-degree malicious burning and one count of second-degree arson.

In Howard County, he is charged with more than 24 felonies, including eight counts of first-degree attempted murder, eight counts of second-degree attempted murder, three counts of first-degree malicious burning, two counts of first-degree arson, two counts of second-degree arson, one count of second-degree malicious burning and various malicious destruction charges.

In Frederick County, Crawford is charged with one count of first-degree arson, one count of second-degree arson and one count of first-degree malicious burning.

According to Prince George’s police, Crawford is also a suspect in a Charles County vehicle fire.

Police said they first searched Crawford’s Howard County home in January and found a target list of known victims along with other evidence.

That’s when Laurel Mayor Craig Moe said he first found out about the investigation. Moe, who has known Crawford since November 2005, appointed Crawford as Laurel’s acting police chief in 2006.

“I have not seen or spoken to him in 10 years since he’s left,” Moe said in an interview Wednesday night.

According to Moe, during Crawford’s tenure he was heavily involved in the community. Though Moe heard that some in the police department were unhappy with Crawford, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for someone in Crawford’s position.

“I don’t know why he would go after two people who are appointed positions in this government,” Moe said. “It’s very disturbing. Somebody who took an oath of office to protect and serve, that’s not how you protect and serve.”

Moe said the investigation is ongoing, but he will share more information with the community when he is able.

Crawford is currently being held at the Howard County Detention Center.


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