Damage to natural gas regulator leads to arrest

Witnesses reporting a loud noise coming from a natural gas regulator near Ridgway Road and South Olive Street Tuesday were able to give police a description of a vehicle they saw leaving the scene and the driver was arrested for allegedly damaging the regulator.

Joseph Freyer, 29, had reportedly been fired from Centerpoint Energy and was identified as the person who was driving the vehicle witnesses saw, a probable cause affidavit from Detective Michael Roberts said.

Roberts reported that Capt. Greg Shapiro requested assistance at about 8:20 p.m. after talking to the witnesses who saw a blue GMC utility vehicle leaving the area of the gas regulator.

An employee of the gas company said Freyer, who reportedly lived in the Woodlawn area, drove a vehicle matching that description, the affidavit said.

Roberts reported that it took the gas company two hours to shut off the flow of gas and the company said they had to shut the gas off to 200 homes while repairs were made to the regulator. The repair costs will exceed $1,000, Roberts said.

An agreement between Deputy Prosecutor Maxie Kizer and attorney Wilson Bynum, who will represent Freyer, resulted in Jefferson County District Judge Kim Bridgforth setting a $5,000 bond for Freyer after ruling prosecutors had probable cause to charge him with first-degree criminal mischief.

Bridgforth told Freyer to come back to court Oct. 24.