Alleged drug-induced episode resulted in Las Cruces apartment arson

Las Cruces News

LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — A 73-year-old Las Cruces man is charged with Arson after his apartment went up in flames Tuesday morning in an alleged drug-induced episode.

Byron Anthony Hicks III, 73, of the 700 block of Williams Lane, is charged with second-degree Arson and is currently being held without bond at the Doña Ana County Detention Center.

According to the arrest affidavit, Las Cruces Fire Department was called to an apartment fire on Williams Lane just before 9 a.m. on Tuesday. Upon arrival, they met with the apartment resident where the fire started, identified as Hicks, who told them, “Yeah, I lit it. I couldn’t get anyone else out here.”

Police allege that Hicks was making odd statements and advised them he’d just moved from Chicago and was in trouble with the Banditos. He allegedly admitted to starting the fire so the fire department would drive him to the El Paso International Airport where Air Force One was waiting to take him back to Chicago.

Hicks allegedly admitted to setting three fires inside his apartment in the kitchen, bathroom, and living room. He reportedly started the kitchen fire with Aqua Velva aftershave by pouring it on the stove; the bathroom fire was started by lighting Walmart plastic bags on the stove and taking them into the bathroom. Hicks told investigators he also started the living room fire with plastic bags, which he stated he placed on the floor next to his easy chair. He told investigators he stayed there until it got too hot for him, and he left the apartment.

According to the affidavit, Hicks knocked on his neighbors’ doors to warn them there was a fire at the apartment.

Emergency crews transported Hicks to a local hospital for evaluation. They were notified by hospital staff that they did not believe Hicks was having a psychiatric episode but was under the influence of an unknown drug at the time of the fire.

The estimated value loss of the fire is $20,000. There were no injuries as a result of the fire, however four residents were displaced.

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