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Summit County man charged with felonies after deputies find “contraption” rigged with propane and car batteries

Summit County

Summit County Sheriff’s Deputies, using instructions from the Park City fire marshal that were given over FaceTime, worked to disarm what they called a contraption rigged to burn down a Tollgate Canyon home last week.

The Summit County Attorney’s Office has charged a 56-year-old Tollgate Canyon man with multiple felonies related to an incident in which he allegedly rigged an explosive device using propane tanks and car batteries, and threatened to blow up his home with his wife’s dogs locked inside, according to court documents.

According to those filings, Gary Lee Jamieson allegedly told an acquaintance that “it was going to be like Ruby Ridge,” referencing a deadly 1992 standoff in Idaho involving federal agents.

Summit County Sheriff’s Deputies disassembled the device in the Tollgate Canyon home using real-time instructions from a Park City Fire District chief. No one was hurt.

In an initial appearance Wednesday morning in 3rd District Court, Judge Richard Mrazik ordered Jamieson held without bail until a hearing scheduled for Monday. Jamieson said he had retained an attorney, but one did not represent him in court.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the attorney Jamieson said he hired declined to comment on the case.

Mrazik ordered Jamieson not to contact several people, including Jamieson’s wife, whom Jamieson allegedly threatened, as well as a witness who reportedly lived on the property.

According to Summit County Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright, Jamieson’s wife called the Sheriff’s Office last Thursday evening concerned that her husband was threatening to burn down their house with her two dogs inside.

Wright said deputies responded to the scene and found Jamieson driving away from the property. Deputies also found in the vehicle a handgun, which Summit County alleges Jamieson was not legally allowed to carry.

Once deputies detained Jamieson, they approached and then entered the home. Wright said they had previously discussed a safety plan with Park City Fire District officials.

“What deputies found is that there was, in fact, some sort of a contraption inside the home,” Wright said. “It included some wood that was barricading some exterior door, there was a hose that was connected to a propane tank and then some sort of a battery contraption that deputies believe was rigged to start a fire and most likely burn the home down.”

Wright said two dogs were found on the property. They did not suffer any injuries.

Deputy Taesha Higbee was clearing the house when she discovered the device. She called on FaceTime the Park City fire marshal, who instructed her how to dismantle it.

Wright said Higbee reported a distinctive odor on site, but that the deputy did not say whether it was propane gas or a smell coming from the car batteries, one of which was connected by wires to a wall outlet.

A court filing says that deputies smelled propane gas outside the home and that Park City Fire District personnel turned off the main gas line leading to two propane tanks.

Wright said he’d never seen a case like it.

“It's something we hope that we don't ever have to deal with again, because it is very scary and a dangerous situation, when someone has, you know, basically a device set up like that, that has the potential to cause a lot of damage and possibly an explosion,” Wright said.

He said it was a good reminder to report suspicious incidents to law enforcement.

“Doing the right thing, notifying us, prevented a lot of possible destruction and injury to people and property,” Wright said. “And so, yeah, absolutely, if you see something, say something. Let us know and let us investigate.”

Jamieson was charged with five crimes: second-degree felony aggravated arson with a domestic violence modifier; third-degree felony purchase, transfer, possession or use of a firearm by a restricted person; class B misdemeanor electronic communication harassment with a domestic violence modifier; and two counts of aggravated cruelty to an animal, both class B misdemeanors.

He is being held at the Summit County Jail.

Alexander joined KPCW in 2021 after two years reporting on Summit County for The Park Record. While there, he won many awards for covering issues ranging from school curriculum to East Side legacy agriculture operations to land-use disputes. He arrived in Utah by way of Madison, Wisconsin, and western Massachusetts, with stints living in other areas across the country and world. When not attending a public meeting or trying to figure out what a PID is, Alexander enjoys skiing, reading and watching the Celtics.