Little League coaches in Salinas, Calif., boarded up a fence two weeks ago to stop a neighbor’s dog from coming onto the playing field.
On Monday afternoon, the dog’s owner, Michael Dean Jones, 54, showed up at a baseball game with a Molotov cocktail and threatened to burn the place down, Salinas police told KSBW. Parents tackled Jones after he ignited a fluid inside a small plastic container.
“He definitely came there to cause harm,” said Justin Kleinfeldt, Little League vice president. About 100 people were at the ballpark, he told KSBW, including Little League players as young as 6 years old. “A lot of them saw it. It was pretty scary and traumatizing.”
League officials told KSBW that Jones, who police said is homeless, often sleeps in the back yard of his mother’s home adjoining the field. They think he may have been angry over the league’s efforts to keep his dog, described as a pit bull, from entering the playing field.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
Jones arrived at the ballpark during a Little League game about 4:50 p.m. Monday carrying a red plastic object doused in gasoline, according to The Salinas Californian.
He stood behind a dugout threatening to burn down the ballpark, then used a lighter to ignite the gasoline, the publication reported. A parent knocked the object to the ground while others tackled Jones and held him down until Monterey County sheriff’s deputies arrived.
Deputies arrested Jones on suspicion of felony aggravated arson and child endangerment, reported The Salinas Californian. He’s being held in jail on $1 million bail.
“This incident could’ve turned much worse, here you have a bunch of kids just trying to play a game of baseball,” Commander John Thornburg of the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department told KSBW.