The man wanted on attempted murder and arson charges following an apartment fire on the city’s south side early Sunday morning has a violent criminal past, according to Edmonton police.
EPS are looking for Zachary Holland, 25, after the 3 a.m. fire sent four people to hospital, including an 18-year-old woman with burns.
The blaze started in the bedroom of her second-floor suite after a “dispute,” EPS spokesperson Scott Pattison said Monday.
“An assault took place where the victim was hit over the head with the lid from the water tank on the toilet (and) allegedly knocked unconscious,” he said. “At that time the police suspect in this case returned to the bedroom, where he lit a fire and escaped over the balcony as we understand it.”
Pattison would not confirm any details of the relationship between the woman and the accused, saying only that it had been about a year and a half long and that Holland was visiting the apartment.
Police are also unsure of a motive.
“It’s hard to say at this time whether … the individual was trying to cover up the assault,” said Pattison.
Police believe Holland may have fled to Calgary, and Pattison noted he “should be considered extremely dangerous.”
Holland is scheduled to appear in court “in the near future” on other charges from an incident in March, he added.
“He was charged with aggravated assault, criminal negligence, choking (and) kidnapping, where he’s alleged to have dragged his then-girlfriend behind his car on the Whitemud freeway,” said Pattison. “This person has a history of violence and this weekend is just another addition to this individual’s lengthy list of crimes.”
Anyone with information on Holland’s whereabouts are asked to call their local police detachment, EPS at 780-423-4567 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Pattison said the woman is still in hospital, while three men from elsewhere in the building were treated and released for smoke inhalation.
Prior to firefighters arriving to rescue residents and fight the blaze, which spread “rapidly,” according to fire Capt. John Yaschuk, three men from across the street helped the woman as she exited the building, then entered and knocked on doors to awaken other residents, also helping some off of balconies outside.
Robert Booth was one of those men. He and his friends simply reacted, he told Metro at the scene on Sunday.
“I know people that live here,” he said. “I wanted to make sure they were okay.”
Pattison said such actions were “heroic.”
The cause of the fire has yet to be released, but Pattison did confirm there was no use of accelerant.
Fire investigators have pegged the damage at $500,000.