San Juan County man accused trying to start a house on fire with six children inside

The defendant was angry and intoxicated during incident

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • Shawntai Gaines, 31, faces six, third-degree felony counts of child abuse, a fourth-degree felony count of negligent arson and a petty misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property.
  • The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched around 7:38 p.m. on March 28 to a residence on County Road 3323, east of Farmington, on reports of an armed subject.
  • Gaines was booked and released on March 29 from the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

FARMINGTON — A man who police say was intoxicated is accused of multiple counts of child abuse for allegedly starting a house fire while there were children inside the residence.

Shawntai Gaines, 31, allegedly abused six children along with causing about $200 in property damage and recklessly starting a fire resulting in property damage, according to court documents.

The defendant faces six third-degree felony counts of child abuse, a fourth-degree felony count of negligent arson and a petty misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property.

Shane Goranson, Gaines’ attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.

Crime:Farmington Police Department blotter for March 27, 2021

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched around 7:38 p.m. on March 28 to a residence on County Road 3323, east of Farmington on reports of an armed subject.

Shawntai Gaines

A woman at the scene wanted to report Gaines, who she said tried to set the residence on fire. The ages of the children inside the residence ranged from three to 11-years-old.

Documents stated that she detailed the incident for the deputies, saying she would not let Gaines inside the home due to how drunk and violent she said he was acting. Gaines allegedly threatened to burn the house down, then kicked in the front door.

After an argument over cigarettes, the defendant is accused of grabbing a gas can and pouring it all over the front porch.

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The woman said Gaines lit the front door mat and the porch on fire. She added she was afraid Gaines was going to burn the residence down with the children inside.

The children were able to evacuate while the porch was on fire.

Deputies saw Gaines flicking the end of a cigarette toward the children, according to court documents. The defendant also appeared to have poured gasoline all over himself.

He was taken into custody and declined to be interviewed, requesting his lawyer. A deputy saw charred spots on the front porch from the fire.

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The red gas can was found lying on the ground, about five feet from the front door.

A large gasoline spill was found on the north end of the house, where Gaines allegedly poured a gasoline “trail” from the spill to the front porch.

The cost to replace the door Gaines allegedly damaged is about $200. There were no estimates listed for the fire damage.

Gaines was booked and released on March 29 from the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

His preliminary hearing is set for the morning of April 8 in Aztec Magistrate Court.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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