Springfield church arson suspect Dushko Vulchev went on Berkshires tire slashing spree, police allege

SPRINGFIELD — Armed with a drill, Dushko Vulchev wreaked havoc on vehicles around Pittsfield for two months, according to newly available police records filed in Springfield District Court.

Vulchev, 44, of Houlton, Maine, is charged in connection with three alleged arson attempts at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church in Springfield in December, plus additional counts of vandalism to cars in this city. He was arraigned Tuesday in Springfield after his arrest on Dec.

31 in Pittsfield.

Police in that city say they were already on the lookout for Vulchev after receiving reports of tires being slashed at a tow yard, a Big Y parking lot, Panera Bread and a Mazda dealership.

A Hampden County prosecutor said Vulchev — a Bulgarian national with a federal conviction for threatening European government officials — has lately been living out of his car, even though he owns a home in Maine near the Canadian border.

Police records show his ex-girlfriend’s parents earlier this year obtained restraining orders against Vulchev that expire Dec.

31, 2099. Vulchev was convicted of assaulting the woman in 2016, when police found her naked, bruised and emotionally shaken at his home in Maine. She told police he had kidnapped her, according to news accounts.

Police reports from Pittsfield say Vulchev was originally suspected of cutting an internet cable and vandalizing a tow truck at an auto body shop after his car had been towed there as part of an investigation on Oct.

29.

On Dec.

16, police responded to a report of a truck being vandalized in the Big Y parking lot. Four days later, a manager at Berkshire Mazda reported tires had been slashed on eight cars in that lot, and two employees of a Panera restaurant said their tires were flattened. The following day, employees at the Berkshire Eagle reported five vans in that parking lot also had their tires slashed.

Surveillance footage at or around every site showed a man resembling Vulchev and driving his car was responsible for the acts, all of which were perpetrated with a drill, police said.

But for the run-in with the towing company, the other alleged victims said they had no connection to Vulchev.

Three people in Springfield whose tires were allegedly slashed or stolen by Vulchev also said he was a stranger to them, according to police records.

Police ran multiple criminal history checks on Vulchev, a college graduate who once worked in finance, court records show.

His federal criminal history is short but troubling, a Pittsfield detective wrote.

“Vulchev’s criminal history reviewed through the (FBI) check does not present as extremely extensive, however the nature of the charged offense pertaining to the Terrorist activity is most noteworthy and speaks to his volatility and potential mental health issues,” that report reads.

Law enforcement officials have not charged Vulchev with a hate crime in connection with the fires at the Springfield church, which has a predominantly Black congregation, but the FBI is still investigating, a spokeswoman from that agency said.

His attorney told a judge the Springfield case is one of mistaken identity.

Vulchev is being held on £25,000 cash bail at the Berkshire County jail.

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