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Whitehall man accused of throwing incendiary devices at mailboxes

Whitehall man accused of throwing incendiary devices at mailboxes

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WHITEHALL — A Whitehall man was arrested on Tuesday after police said he threw incendiary devices into two mailboxes.

David M. Downing, 32, is accused of throwing the two Molotov cocktail-style devices into the mailboxes on Hatch Hill Road. Downing knew the owners of the mailboxes and was having an ongoing dispute with them, police said.

The mailboxes caught fire. No one was injured during the incident.

Downing was charged with felony first-degree criminal mischief and misdemeanor fifth-degree arson. He was arraigned in Washington County Centralized Arraignment Court and released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court on a later date.

Downing has a criminal record. He was arrested last July after a 2 1/2–hour standoff at his residence in which he is accused of threatening to kill a police officer.

The incident started from a report of a home invasion that took place at a home in Fair Haven, Vermont. Police said a man came into the home and threatened the resident. The homeowner believed the man had left the scene, but he barged in and assaulted the homeowner.

The suspect fled the scene, but a wallet was recovered and the homeowner identified him as Downing. He returned to the scene later that day and attempted to gain entry, but was not successful.

Police said Downing then went outside and took tools from the homeowner’s truck and threw the tool box through a screen door and other tools on the lawn before fleeing.

Downing then called police looking for his wallet. While on the phone call, he allegedly said he had a rifle and threatened to kill the officer.

Downing was charged in Vermont with two counts of burglary into an occupied dwelling and charges of simple assault, unlawful mischief and violation of an abuse prevention order.

Whitehall police located Downing at his residence on South Williams Street at about 4:30 a.m. on July 21. He barricaded himself in his house.

Downing allegedly threatened to shoot the officer, which led to a standoff at his home.

Residents in the area of South Williams Street, Elizabeth Street, Champlain Avenue and Montcalm Avenue were asked to stay in their homes during the incident.

The Vermont case is still pending. The status of the case in New York could not be determined on Wednesday.

Michael Goot covers politics, crime and courts, Warren County, education and business. Reach him at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com.

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