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'I'm going to stop you': Cabbie recalls encounter with suspect in Billings airport vandalism

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Posted at 8:53 PM, Dec 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-12 11:08:59-05

BILLINGS - Lucas Smith had been working as a taxi cab driver for five days when he stopped a man from lighting a fire at Billings Logan International Airport early Monday morning.

“When I see something like that, I don't even think about myself, man,” Smith said. “I think about the others. We're all neighbors. We're all in this together. We're all fighting the same fight. We're all dealing with the same struggle.”

Smith works for Billings Taxi Service and went up to the airport to wait for a couple of passengers around midnight.

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He was waiting inside door three to stay warm.

Someone had thrown a rock through the window and was spray painting near door two.

Smith ran the other way to Enterprise car rental and asked the women who were working to call security.

He then saw the man spread lighter fluid, take his sock off to soak it with fluid, and then attempt to light it.

“I got everything away from him and I stopped him,” Smith said. “He went, ran out into the road to grab his stuff. And he came back and I stopped him at the sidewalk. And I said, 'No, you're not doing this here, man. You're not going to do this here.' And he asked me what I was going to do about it. And I said, 'I'm going to stop you in the polite way.'”

Smith said he was then tackled and got the man in a chokehold.

“I let him go,” Smith said. “He got up. I got up. He ran down the door for it continued to vandalism. I turned around, saw the police officer just inside. So I grabbed him and I stayed with the police officer with the guy until the rest of the police force showed up.”

The suspect, Jared Saffold, was booked into the Yellowstone County jail on possible charges of felony arson, criminal mischief, and assault, according to Billings police.

Related: Vandal strikes Billings airport