Kent man charged with assault in apartment hostage incident

King County prosecutors charged a 53-year-old Kent man Sept. 9 with second-degree assault after he held a woman hostage at knifepoint and threatened to set himself and the woman on fire Sept. 3 at a Kent apartment.

Rocky Dell Pettengill is scheduled to be arraigned for the alleged assault of his Kent roommate at 9 a.m. Sept. 21 at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

Pettengill remained in custody Sept. 10 at the county jail in Seattle. Bail was set at $250,000.

The incident occurred at about 2:07 p.m. Sept. 3 at the Arbor Chase Apartments at 64th Avenue South and West Smith Street in the Kent Valley. Hostage negotiators from the Kent and Tukwila Police talked nearly 90 minutes with Pettengill before he put down his knife and surrendered at about 3:38 p.m. Kent Police arrested him for investigation of assault.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dana Cashman requested the $250,000 bail because Pettengill told police he was schizophrenic and was not taking his medications, according to charging papers.

"He became enraged at his roommate and attacked her with lighter fluid which caused burning to her skin," Cashman wrote in charging papers. "He held her at knifepoint and threatened to set her on fire with a lighter while police negotiated with him for the victim's safe release. He is clearly a danger to the community and not likely to appear in court."

Kent Police were notified about the incident when a neighbor called 911 to report loud noises and sounds of fighting coming from a nearby apartment.

When officers arrived less than a minute later, they found a man identifying himself as a roommate coming out of the apartment. The man told officers that another male roommate had taken a female roommate hostage inside the apartment.

Officers entered the apartment and found themselves just a few feet from Pettengill. Pettengill was sitting on the floor near a couch, holding the woman in front of him.

Paramedics transported the woman to Valley Medical Center in Renton. She was treated and released for chemical burns on her body, according to charging papers.

The woman told detectives she had allowed Pettengill to stay in the apartment for two months but recently discovered he was using methamphetamine.

On the day of the incident, Pettengill squirted lighter fluid on the woman and himself and said, "We're going to die together." The woman tried to run from the apartment, but he grabbed her and pulled out a knife.

Pettengill told detectives that he was a slave in the woman's home and that he wanted his money back from her so he could move, according to charging papers. He admitted to pouring lighter fluid on the woman and holding a knife to her neck but said he didn't intend to hurt her.

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