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Man charged after allegedly trying to blow up gas station

An Utulei resident who was alleged to be under the influence of alcohol last week when he allegedly attempted to blow up the Morris Scanlan Gas Station in Utulei is now facing first degree attempted arson in addition to a public peace disturbance count.

Malaeloa Folasa, in his 30’s is being held on bail of $20,000. He was in District Court yesterday afternoon and is represented by Assistant Public Defender Karen Shelley.

According to the government’s case, police were called to the gas station for assistance on Sept. 27, 2012, regarding some drunken men who were causing a disturbance.

It's alleged the men claimed they were upset that the gas station was not respecting the village curfew. The government claims one of the men was the defendant, who was reportedly trying to blow up the gas station.

Court affidavit states that when police officers arrived at the scene, one of the gas station employees was chasing the defendant behind the gas station.

Sergeant Abel Penetusi apprehended the defendant, who was taken to the police station for more questioning. The government claims that it was obvious the defendant was drunk by the strong odor of alcohol coming from his breath.

The gas station employee told police the defendant walked to the fuel pump and removed a gas nozzle from the gas pump and held a lighter up to the nozzle and lit the lighter.

It’s alleged the employee grabbed the fuel pump from the defendant; however Folasa went to another pump and did the same thing. 

Another employee then grabbed the fuel pump from the defendant, however, each time they would take a fuel pump out of the defendant’s hands, he would go to another pump and try to light that one on fire.

The gas station provided police with a surveillance video from the gas station where the defendant was seen to repeatedly grab fuel pumps, holding up a lighter with an open flame just a few inches from the fuel pump.

The preliminary examination on the defendant’s case has been scheduled to be heard next week Friday in the afternoon.

Acting Chief Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde, who’s prosecuting the case, told Samoa News that the facts of this case are quite unusual and bizarre.

“It's fortunate that there was no explosion and that there were no injuries. “The repercussions of the defendant's actions could have been much more serious” she said.

Samoa News notes that the gas station is located right next to the government tank farm, which stores all fuel that comes into the territory before distribution.