Police arrest arson suspect accused of starting SUV fire

Police arrest arson suspect accused of starting SUV fire »Play Video
Michael David Gunst

PORTLAND, Ore. – Police arrested an arson suspect in connection with an SUV fire in Southeast Portland in February.

Michael David Gunst, 36, was arrested and taken to the Multnomah County Jail early Wednesday morning. Police have not released many other details about their investigation or the arrest.

The SUV fire happened the morning of Feb. 24 near Southeast 97th Avenue and Steele Street. Neighbors said they smelled gas and saw someone run away when the fire started.

Rachel Jamison owned the SUV that burned up. She said she was so shaken that she moved away days later.

"He was outside my window while I was sleeping for 45 minutes, setting up this explosion," said Jamison. "We gave our 30-day notice and high-tailed it out of there."

Neighbor Angel Marks said when her mother came to her house she found a curtain soaked in gasoline on her front porch after the fire. Another neighbor said whoever started the fire used a hose and some tools from his back yard.

Fire investigators said they had evidence against Gunst, including DNA and surveillance video.

Gunst faces charges of felony arson (1st and 2nd degree) and three counts of felony attempted arson. He is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.

Jamison said the arrest was comforting, but not enough.

"It's just bone-chilling to know while you're sleeping, thinking everything's fine and you're safe, that someone can be lurking in your driveway for nearly an hour, plotting to do something that could have killed you or other people."

KATU's Lincoln Graves contributed to this story.