SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News)  – Ron Makin went from good Samaritan to suspect.

Makin was charged last year with aggravated arson for a fire at his apartment complex.

Makin lived at the Meadows Apartments in Bountiful.  His attorney said it’s for low income and people with disabilities. Makin has a learning disability.

Last May, the fire alarm went off and Makin called 911. The following is a transcript of that call.

Ron Makin: “Our apartment smells like smoke.”
Dispatch:  “Do you see any flames?”
Ron Makin: “I don’t know.  I’m out somewhere looking out.  Yes, it is flames.”

People in the apartment complex began evacuating as firefighters were sent to the location. Makin grabbed a fire extinguisher and attempted to put out the fire located in a hallway. The surveillance video released by his attorney also showed Making knocking on doors and getting people out.

By then firefighters had arrived and made their way to the second floor.  No one was injured.  One person was treated for smoke inhalation.

Makin also made his way outside only to soon learn he was accused of starting the fire. Police found gasoline in the back of his truck and when they questioned him and they also found a lighter on him.

Makin said he saw two youth nearby who looked suspicious.  But according to police reports, Makin changed his story. 

According to the police report Makin claimed he was taking the garbage out but surveillance video did not show him carrying a garbage bag. He was charged with aggravated arson which carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

Makin spoke publicly for the first time.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he told ABC4. “I tried to help people and then here they come and try to set me up on it.”

Makin said the gas container in his truck belonged to a friend and he was carrying it for him. He also said the lighter was in his pocket because he and friends were going to a barbeque the following day.

His attorney said they’ll set out to prove the substance causing the fire is not gas but a different chemical.

J. Cole Cooper claimed someone else started the fire and that Makin is a scapegoat.

“I think people that call and save other people under the good Samaritan laws, you have a statute in Utah, should be rewarded and not condemned,” said Cooper.

He said Makin suffers from a learning disability and it confused him when he talked to police.

Since that day, Makin’s life has been crumbling. He spent 13 days in jail. He is battling cancer.  His wife who he said is also disabled is divorcing him at the request of her parents.

“I was feeling good that I helped people get out of the building,” Makin said. “I’m feeling bad that they’re trying to frame me for it.” 

A preliminary hearing is scheduled next month.  The court date will help determine if there is enough evidence for Makin to stand trial.


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