Southeast Portland

Much to victims' consternation, man gets 30 months for arson

Much to victims' consternation, man gets 30 months for arson »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. – A man who investigators say torched an SUV and tried to burn down three houses was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison on Monday.

His victims were not pleased.

Portland Fire and Rescue released a video of Michael Gunst setting fire to an SUV at S.E. 97th and Steele in front of nearby homes as people slept on February 24.

Gunst pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree arson and one count of first-degree attempted arson, and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

People affected by the fire said they thought that was insufficient, considering investigators have both surveillance video of the scene and DNA evidence.

“That’s a little bit outrageous,” said Marc Wheeler. “I have trouble sleeping. I always look out the window.”

Gunst placed a gasoline-soaked blanket across the doorway of a house that is home to a family of seven. Investigators believe he intended to burn the house down, as well as other houses in the neighborhood.

“I was traumatized myself,” said Max Plancarte, who lives in the house. “They were going to burn my truck and the house, and we were not going to have probably no way out.”

The family put up surveillance cameras.

“t was scary, the kids were scared,” said Angel Marks. “They even had to talk to counselors at school.”

Gunst hasn’t told investigators what his motive was. The district attorney’s office hasn’t yet said why Gunst was allowed to take a plea deal.

On Tuesday, Chief Deputy District Attorney Chuck Sparks sent KATU the following statement:

"Respecting the rights of victims is extremely important to this office. While there was an effort to contact the victims it was not the effort we expect in cases like this. We are going to be following up with these victims to meet with them and explain the circumstances and the negations in this case.”

“They had so much evidence,” Marks said. “They had him on camera and everything"