Wapato police: Violent argument over crying baby leads to arson

Wapato police: Violent argument over crying baby leads to arson
YAKIMA, Wash. -- A Wapato man is facing felony charges after investigators say a violent argument over a crying baby led to arson.

Wapato Police responded to a domestic violence call on the 100 block of East B Street Friday and arrived to smoke coming from the house.

"We just started a life together. He was barely starting his life out," said Angelina Rivas, who police say was involved in the argument. “He was doing everything that was expected of him."

Police say Rolando Rivas walked into his home in a rage, splashed gasoline on the floor and on a gas heater, then set the place on fire before taking off on foot.

Investigators say Rivas was spotted walking down the road about a half block from his home.

When police stopped him, they said he had a lighter, smelled of gasoline and was yelling curse words in the direction of his smoky home.

Court documents indicate an argument over the couple's crying baby started it all and that the fire burned a rug as family members quickly worked to put it out.

Police say prior to starting the fire, he smashed the windows on his mother-in-law's car and then started punching her and his wife.

"It's unusual," said Wapato Police Officer Jacob Murphy. “It's not every day we get a call where someone states someone is trying to burn their house down."

Neighbors, however, say the fighting isn't unusual.

"We see police going by driving really slow, pulling in talking to them. That for us, is normal,” said a neighbor who wanted to be identified as “Susie.”

People in this neighborhood were too afraid to reveal any aspect of their identity but told KIMA they worried their homes could be in danger.

"You never know, that's so close that could also burn over here,” said “Susie.”

Rivas' wife says clearly the argument went too far, but seems to be standing by him.

"He's a good man, he's a good father. It's just unfortunate things went this way,” said Angelina Rivas.

Police say the couple's baby was not hurt during the fight; the victim’s relative locked the baby inside a car.

Rivas was expected in court Monday but did not appear. He told police his wife tried to stab him, a claim she later denied.

Detectives said this case is still being investigated.

The home only sustained smoke damage.

Rivas is expected in court this week.