“We believe he was high on something,” said Robert Bolcik, sheriff.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Gabriel Whittaker, 37, for terroristic threat and family violence. Bolcik said more charges could come later.
The Refugio County Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to Keller Road where they found Whittaker’s house destroyed and his wife terrorized, according to investigator Gary Wright with the sheriff’s department.
“He tore up the house,” Wright said. “He turned over the refrigerator and stove, knocked out every window in the house, broke every mirror and tore down a ceiling fan and left in the vehicle.”
Before leaving the home, he allegedly threatened his 31-year-old wife with a gun that officers later found inside the home.
While the deputies were still on the scene in Tivoli, a fire was reported in the Austwell area.
“Chief Arnulfo Perez had to pull his fire crew away from the fire because the odor of ammonia was so strong,” Bolcik said.
The odor led officers to believe that chemicals to produce drugs may have caused the explosion in the vehicle.
A state fire marshal will bring a canine to the county later this week to see if an accelerant was inside the vehicle.
Whittaker is believed to have jammed a metal pipe to the gas pedal and then jumped out before it crashed into a ravine and exploded.
“Broken glass was found in the front passenger area we believe is a glass jar that may have contained acetone or ammonia,” Bolcik.
Bolcik said these chemicals are used to make meth.