Fact Check: Ignat Shchetinin And Sammy Scott Piatt Not CHARGED With Arson Connected To Clackamas County, Oregon Wildfires

Fact Check

  • by: Eric Ferkenhoff
Fact Check: Ignat Shchetinin And Sammy Scott Piatt Not CHARGED With Arson Connected To Clackamas County, Oregon Wildfires Missing Context

Were Ignat Shchetinin and Sammy Scott Piatt charged with arson in connection with wildfires raging in Clackamas County, Oregon? No, that's not true. While two men have been charged with arson, the charges are not related to the wildfires in northwestern Oregon. They were charged in separate incidents with arson -- one related to lighting leaves on fire that were quickly extinguished and the other for starting a fire in a store to win someone's attention.

The implication that Shechetinin and Piatt's arrest were connected to the wildfires appeared in a post (archived here) shared on Facebook Sept. 13, 2020. With two mugshots below it, the post read:

Nope, no arson arrests in Clackamas County. Oh look...here's a couple recent mugshots. I wouldn't be surprised to see more 🤬

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Sep 14 15:47:50 2020 UTC)

While the post does not specifically state that the arson charges were related to wildfires, the timing of the post and the comments below it suggested that. The same is true of other posts similar to the one posted by Terraka Mishler.

Here is another, just with different wording, and commenters have pointed out that they had nothing to do with the fires -- to which the poster replied, asking about one of the charged men's alleged possession of body armour at the time of his arrest.

The men charged are Ignat Shchetinin, 37 and Sammy Scott Piatt, 53.

Shchetinin's charged were described in the following Sept. 12 statement by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office:

On Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 7), Clackamas County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a report that a suspect had ignited clothing articles on a merchandise rack at the Clackamas Fred Meyer (16301 SE 82nd Dr., Clackamas).

Deputies obtained images of the suspect from store cameras.

On Sept. 11, deputies spotted the suspect -- later identified as Ignat Shchetinin, 37 -- on Hwy. 212 and 82nd Dr. in Clackamas, near the same Fred Meyer.

When contacted, Mr. Shchetinin confessed to interntionally igniting the clothing inside the Fred Meyer, using a purple Bic-style lighter. He told deputies he did this to get the attention of a person who wouldn't speak with him.

Deputies also discovered Mr. Shchetinin possessed a baggie of methamphetamine.

Ignat Shchetinin was transported to Clackamas County Jail on charges including:

  • ORS.164.325 - ARSON I
  • ORS.475.894-1 - PCS-METH

Bail was set at $250,000..."

For Piatt, the Oregon City Police Department released this on their Facebook page:

As searched here, Piatt was on probation at the time for felony possession of body armour and a methamphetmine drug charge.

According to a story posted Sept. 12 by KOIN, a CBS station in Oregon, the arson charges sparked much speculation about some connection to the wildfires in the area:

...Word quickly spread on social media, adding fuel to rumors that at least some of the fires popping up in rural areas around the county may be the result of arson. According to authorities, though, that's not the case."

There have reportedly been at least four people arrested for arsons tied to the wildfires, but these arrests and suggestions that extremists on either side were to blame have so far proven baseless, according to the FBI and this story in The New York Times from Sept. 10.

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  Eric Ferkenhoff

Eric Ferkenhoff has been a reporter, editor and professor for 27 years, working chiefly out of the Midwest and now the South. Focusing on the criminal and juvenile justice systems, education and politics, Ferkenhoff has won several journalistic and academic awards and helped start a fact-checking project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he continues to teach advanced reporting. Ferkenhoff also writes and edits for the juvenile justice site JJIE.org.


Read more about or contact Eric Ferkenhoff

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