Cottonwood, Arizona police have arrested a man they caught on video firebombing a medevac helicopter early Friday morning. The incident occurred at about 0230 local time on the Verde Valley Medical Center's helipad. According to Cottonwood Police Chief Jody Fanning, security video shows Richard Butts, 26, heaving a beer bottle he apparently had filled with gasoline at Guardian Air's Bell 407, which was tied down on the pad just feet from a tank of jet fuel. The resulting fire charred the front of the aircraft and put a hole in the windshield. Damage is estimated at over $200,000 and no injuries were reported.
AZfamily.com reports that police say the motivation for the attack is not clear, but that Butts had reportedly been drinking. He will face charges including criminal damage and arson. Because the attack involved an aircraft, there may be federal charges pending as well.
According to Verde Valley Medical Center, Angel 3's flight crew celebrated their 10th anniversary with the hospital last year. As of May 2011, the helicopter team had flown more than 2,700 patients since launching operations in 2001.Guardian Air's Angel 3 is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment and on call 24 hours a day.
Guardian Air is a division of Flagstaff Medical Center. It provides around-the-clock air-ambulance service -- both helicopters and fixed-wing planes -- throughout Arizona, the Southwest region and the Native American Nations.