LAS VEGAS (KLAS) –-A man is accused of lighting a fire and spreading a hazardous powder on the ground during what investigators said was a ritual inside a Summerlin gas station, Metro Police said.
Officers arrested Steven Thomas, 36, at the Terrible Herbst gas station on West Charleston Boulevard and Interstate 215 on Tuesday night.
According to an arrest report, officers found Thomas standing barefoot in the store’s Beer Cave in “a pool of an unknown white powdery substance.” An officer said Thomas was “spinning in circles” with a burning item in his hand.
During their investigation, officers said they noticed a bucket with a white substance on the floor of the room. The bucket had a tag with the words of the compound “sodium hydroxide,” and the room smelled of chlorine. Officers then evacuated the store.
According to the store’s clerk, Thomas came into the store with the bucket, asked for a lighter, went to the beer section of the store and began to move “his arms around his body as if he were performing some sort of ritual,” the report said. The clerk called 911.
While waiting for EMTs to arrive, police said they observed burn marks on the man’s body. He was taken to UMC, where he remained until he was moved to jail on Friday, records show.
An officer at the scene who encountered Thomas also experienced redness and irritation to his wrists, the report said. Due to the chemical at the scene, counter terrorism officials responded. At the time of the report’s writing, the exact makeup of the substance was not known.
Video surveillance from inside the store showed Thomas pouring the powder on the ground, forming a circle and lighting what appeared to be sage in his hand, the report said.
“He began moving his arms around his body with the lit item in his hand, continuing from his lower body and moving up his body and over his head then back down, as if performing a ritual,” police wrote. “He then leaned against a rack containing alcoholic beverage cans with his left forearm. At the same time, he retrieved a can of Twisted Tea from another rack next to him and rubbed it on his left forearm.”
According to the report, Thomas repeated this action several times while also rubbing the powder on his body.
Thomas was arrested on charges of burglary with a deadly weapon, dispersing a hoax substance and arson.