Crime - Sacto 911

South Lake Tahoe man accused of setting fire to apartment

Brandon Philip Rothermel
Brandon Philip Rothermel Booking photo, South Lake Tahoe Police Department

A 33-year-old man has been arrested after allegedly pouring gasoline inside his South Lake Tahoe apartment and setting it on fire with his girlfriend inside.

South Lake Tahoe police received a 911 call about 2 p.m. Wednesday from a woman who reported that her boyfriend had physically assaulted her at his apartment at 673 James Ave. She said her boyfriend, Brandon Philip Rothermel, was pouring gasoline inside the apartment. While speaking with 911 operators, the woman reported that the apartment was on fire.

The first officer arrived and found Rothermel with a lighter in his hand, according to a Police Department news release. Rothermel refused the comply with the officer’s commands and attempted to go back into the apartment, police said.

When the officer tried to detain Rothermel, Rothermel struggled with the officer, grabbing the officer’s handcuffs and refusing to let go of them. Police said Rothermel also used his lighter on the officer, causing a minor burn.

Only after additional officers arrived and helped place Rothermel under arrest were firefighters able to extinguish the fire, which damaged property inside the apartment, police said.

The victim told detectives that Rothermel had told her that she and he were going to die that day and started spreading gasoline around the apartment. She said some of the gasoline got on her and Rothermel tried to prevent her from leaving the apartment. She told police she had to fight him off to escape.

Detectives served a search warrant and recovered several containers of gasoline as well as a lighter in the living room. Police said they also found a firearm that was not registered to Rothermel.

Rothermel was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, arson and assault on a police officer.