Adams County alleged arson targets law enforcement residence, sparks investigation

Alleged arson attempt targets Adams County Chief Deputy's residence, and the sheriff's office seeks community help in their investigation.

Adams Co Sheriff
Adams County Sheriff's Office.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

Hettinger, N.D. — The Adams County Sheriff's Office has launched an investigation into an alleged arson attempt on the residence of Chief Deputy Jeff Gooss in Hettinger. According to Sheriff Jordan Fisher's departmental Facebook post on Sunday, it is believed that the incident was an intentional act targeting Gooss as a law enforcement officer. Gooss said he has recused himself from the investigation to avoid a conflict of interest.

The residence, located in the 300 block of North Main Street, was the target of the alleged arson attempt. Business owners and neighboring residents with doorbell or surveillance cameras that have a view of the street are being asked to review their footage from the night of the incident. The incident occurred between the hours of 10 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Any evidence that could be related to the crime should be immediately reported to law enforcement at 701-567-2530.

The Sheriff emphasized in their statement that all callers' anonymity will be fully respected.

Arson is among some of the most challenging crimes to investigate for law enforcement agencies as the process is often complex and demands substantial resources and expertise to solve. As per the North Dakota Century Code subsection 12.1-21-01, "A person is guilty of arson, a class B felony if he starts or maintains a fire or causes an explosion with intent to destroy an entire or any part of a building or inhabited structure of another or a vital public facility, or if he starts or maintains a fire or causes an explosion with intent to destroy or damage his own real or personal property for the purpose of collecting insurance for the loss."

In a phone conversation with The Dickinson Press Tuesday, Fisher explained that Sgt. Ken Finlayson was the responding deputy to the incident Friday night. Finlayson purportedly used a fire extinguisher from his patrol vehicle to squelch the flames, which resulted in minimal damage to the home.


"Law enforcement, obviously, it's a very difficult job. And we have sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution(s) of the United States and the State of North Dakota. With that being said, there's obviously individuals who don't like that we stand up for the rule of law, but we will never cower to those individuals, regardless of the attempts they try to make on our lives, our property or our reputation. We will continue to keep fighting the good fight to serve and protect the people to which we serve in every one of our communities that we do as law enforcement officers, and we appreciate all of those who continue to support us," Fisher said.

He added that he could not provide further information, as the matter remains under investigation.

The Adams County Sheriff's Office is urging the community to come forward with any information that could help them identify the perpetrator(s) behind the alleged arson attempt as the Sheriff's Office works to bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure that the safety of its officials and the community is not compromised.

As news of the alleged arson attempt spread, residents of Hettinger and the surrounding areas expresses support for Chief Deputy Gooss on social media. The North Dakota Fraternal Order of Police also commented on the situation, expressing concern with the alleged targeting of a law enforcement officer.

"Despite the extraordinarily strong support for law enforcement here, North Dakota is not immune from intentional targeting of law enforcement officers. Let's spread this message far and wide and bring the coward(s) responsible for this to justice!" a Facebook post read.

The Adams County Sheriff's Office has assured the community that it will leave no stone unturned in its investigation, and that those responsible for the alleged arson attempt will be brought to justice.

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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