COVINA — A disgruntled former resident of a Covina adult independent living home is accused of vandalizing the home, flooding it with water and filling it with natural gas over the weekend, officials said.
Steven Moss, 44, was booked on suspicion of burglary, felony vandalism and attempting to explode a structure following his arrest shortly after 12:30 p.m. at a house in the 200 block of West Gragmont Street, Covina police Sgt. Rob Bobkiewicz said. The house was being used as a rent-free home for the disabled and homeless.
He, along with another man, had been kicked out of the home the previous day by the homeowner, Covina police Lt. Jason Walczak said. The homeowner had come down to discuss community concerns that the men were causing problems when she became dissatisfied with the condition of the home and ordered the two men to leave.
The man kicked out along with Moss was also arrested by Covina police on suspicion of possessing drug paraphernalia, officials added. The homeowner temporarily relocated the other residents of the home to allow for repairs to be made.
But about 10:30 Saturday night, police were summoned back to the home after the homeowner discovered the home had been broken into and vandalized, Walczak said. The kitchen floor had been bashed with a sledge hammer, appliances had been damaged and windows broken out.
The vandal was gone when police arrived, however witnesses recognized him as Moss, Walczak said.
Bobkiewicz said the homeowner returned to the house shortly after 12:30 p.m. Sunday, but because of the recent commotion, asked police to look inside before she entered.
“She just wanted us to check the house before she went in,” the sergeant said.
Her concern proved to be founded, as police soon noticed a man inside the home, Bobkiewicz said. He was detained by officers when he exited the home and tried to hide in the backyard.
It was then that officers noticed, “There was this very, very strong odor of gas coming from inside the house, to the point that we were concerned to go in,” Bobkiewicz said.
Firefighters responded and found the stove burners in the home had been left on without a flame, filling the home with flammable gas.
Furthermore, the home had been flooded with about two inches of water, the sergeant said. Moss allegedly ran a garden house from the yard into the home, as well as used a pipe to direct water from the kitchen sink onto the floor.
Police said they suspected Moss may have been in the process of setting a trap when officers arrived.
An extension cord had been plugged into a socket in a flooded hallway and ran outside into the yard, Bobkiewicz said. Investigators speculated he may have been preparing to electrify the water or create a device to detonate the natural gas.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Moss was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail at the Covina Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
PHOTO of Steven Moss courtesy of the Covina Police Department