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Deputies contend with chaos, gas explosion during arrest at Ketchum trailer park

Deputies trying to investigate a report of gunshots instead found a man swinging a belt over his head, threatening them with pieces of wood and causing a large explosion.
Credit: Blaine Co.. Sheriff
Morton Lee Zerby

BLAINE COUNTY -- A Bellevue man is facing charges after police say he caused problems and tried to fight with deputies at a trailer park in Blaine County.

The Blaine County Sheriff's Office deputies were originally called out to the North Fork Trailer Park for a report of possible gunshots. Several witnesses told authorities they had heard what they believed to be the sound of a rifle firing coming from a person near a bonfire.

First responders arrived to find 59-year-old Morton Lee Zerby, who was "confrontational and non-complaint" when they tried to talk to him, according to the sheriff's office.

The deputies say Zerby ran towards them aggressively, swung a belt with a metal buckle over his head, and threatened them with a piece of wood before getting into a physical fight with them. The deputies eventually Tased Zerby to subdue him.

But as they were trying to arrest the suspect, however, a gas can Zerby had set on the bonfire before the fight started suddenly exploded, sending flames 15 feet into the air.

Zerby was ultimately placed under arrest, and the Ketchum Fire Department responded to the trailer park to put out the fire.,

The suspect was booked into jail on misdemeanor charges of assault on an officer, resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia. No rifles or other guns were found, according to the sheriff's office.

Zerby's arraignment is set for Monday afternoon.