Arson charges facing a Wilmington, Ill., man are surprising considering the accused's occupation.
Ronald Armstrong, 22, a firefighter in Will County, called in an insurance claim shortly after his tan 2005 Ford F250 was found charred beyond recognition in a field owned by Armstrong's friend Jeremy Sorensen in February, WLS reports. Firefighters responding to the scene in the plowed field were met by Armstrong and Sorensen, who reportedly claimed the truck had been loaned to a friend while Armstrong was out of town.
Armstrong later contradicted his story, arousing suspicion in Wilmington Fire Chief Tim Zlomie, who requested an arson investigator from another department examine the case, CBS Chicago reports. A deputy noted that Armstrong owed $20,000 on the truck and had switched his insurance to State Farm earlier that week.
Armstrong and Sorensen were arrested Friday on felony arson charges, the Associated Press reports. Armstrong was also charged with insurance fraud, and posted $100,000 bail Tuesday. Zlomie says Armstrong has been placed on administrative leave and will soon be dismissed.
"Our whole organization is shocked by this incident," Zlomie told the Chicago Tribune. "I don’t think any of us saw this coming. Up to this point he was always a good firefighter."
Armstrong was hired by the volunteer department as a firefighter EMT in January 2009. He has been placed on administrative leave and will soon be relieved of duty, Zlomie told the AP.