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Cotton man charged with arson, assaulting deputy

A Cotton man allegedly set fire to a neighbor's residence, damaged two vehicles and then lunged at a sheriff's deputy with a knife.

Wade R. Johnson, 44 was charged Wednesday with four felony offenses in the Sunday incident, which resulted in the destruction of the cabin and minor injuries to the deputy.

Johnson, who was described as "extremely drunk," allegedly admitted to setting fire to the neighboring dwelling. No motive was outlined in charging documents.

Johnson was arraigned in State District Court in Virginia on felony charges of first-degree arson, theft of a motor vehicle, first-degree damage to property and fourth-degree assault on a peace officer.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Michelle Anderson set bail at $50,000.

According to a criminal complaint:

The structure fire was reported just before 1 p.m. at 4956 Comstock Lake Road. The first deputy on scene found the cabin engulfed in flames.

Across the street, Johnson's mother, who called in the blaze, said her son was inside their residence and acting "crazy."

The deputy went inside and found Johnson, who was seated at the kitchen table with his father. Multiple knives and other "bladed weapons" were within his reach.

The deputy pointed his taser at Johnson and ordered him to stand up and place his hands behind his back, but Johnson instead reached for a knife on his belt. The deputy again ordered him to comply, at which point the defendant reportedly lunged.

The deputy deployed his taser, but it had no effect, and Johnson attempted to throw several punches. The deputy was able to strike Johnson with a closed fist and then deploy pepper spray in his face and wrestle his arms into handcuffs.

While being placed in a squad car, Johnson reportedly resisted, kicking at the arresting officers. Later, the deputy involved in the kitchen struggle felt pain in his right hand, reporting that he could not move his index finger, which was swollen to twice its size.

Meanwhile, authorities made contact with the owner of the neighboring cabin, who reported he had left at 8:30 a.m. He said doors were locked and that he had a large amount of cash inside that he was saving for a trip to Florida.

Additionally, the victim's pickup truck was missing from the driveway. It was located in a nearby gravel pit, where it had been crashed directly into the side of a dump truck, which was co-owned by the victim and Johnson's father.

Johnson's parents told investigators that they had arrived home to find the neighbor's residence on fire. They went into their home, where Johnson reportedly acknowledged setting the blaze.

Johnson's clothes were covered in fuel or diesel oil and $580 in cash was located in his pants pocket. A yellow diesel can was found in the Johnsons' garage and investigators said the fire scene had discoloration and smell consistent with a diesel fire.

A check of court records shows that Johnson has an extensive criminal history, with 11 convictions for disorderly conduct, as well as various theft, burglary property damage and assault convictions.

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