A man accused of setting fire to several vacant houses in Breathitt County early Thursday was shot when he nearly hit another man with his vehicle while trying to drive away, state police said.
Ray Brown was listed in critical but stable condition Thursday afternoon.
Roger Spencer is charged with one count of first-degree assault stemming from the shooting, said state police detective Scott Sandlin, who is investigating.
Brown had not been charged in the fires as of Thursday afternoon. Sandlin said it was not clear why Brown might have set the fires. The detective said he had not been able to interview Brown.
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Sandlin said Spencer is deaf and can't speak, and he doesn't know sign language. That has made the investigation more difficult, he said. The detective said Spencer did not provide information about why he allegedly shot Brown.
The unusual events happened in the Rousseau community about 6 a.m.
Volunteer firefighters initially responded to a report that an abandoned house was on fire. The firefighters arrived and found fires at three abandoned houses and an old bus. Several people were involved in an argument, state police said.
Residents had confronted Brown, and one had brandished a gun, according to state police.
Witnesses said that when Brown got into a car and tried to drive away. Spencer, who tried to get out of the way to avoid being hit, apparently fired several shots at the car with a .22-caliber rifle, hitting Brown multiple times, police said. Brown's car then hit two parked vehicles driven by firefighters and rolled over an embankment.
Rescue workers had to cut Brown out of the car. He was flown to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn.
Breathitt County Sheriff Ray Clemons, who was at the scene, said he hadn't heard why Brown was allegedly burning the houses.
Clemons said Brown did odd jobs, and the sheriff was not aware of Brown being in any other trouble. A man Brown worked for said Brown was easygoing and a good worker, Clemons said.