Former officer had "gut feeling" Taylor didnt set 1970 Pioneer - Tucson News Now

Former officer had "gut feeling" Taylor didn't set 1970 Pioneer fire

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Even back in 1970, people questioned whether then 16-year-old Louis Taylor had started the Pioneer fire, killing 29 people.

One of the people who was not convinced that Taylor was responsible was a Tucson police officer who knew Taylor from the streets.

Ed Wagner was a Tucson police officer at the time who was assigned to walk the streets of downtown during the busy Christmas season.

He says he came to know Taylor who was downtown often, and that he wasn't the type of person to cause a deadly fire.

"I had this gut feeling that if this kid did it I just felt it had to have been an accident," Wagner said.

According to Wagner, then 16-year-old Louis Taylor was a kid who was terrified by police. "He was like a little scared rabbit if you were a cop and you were wearing a badge he'd talk to you no eye contact and almost shivering."

Wagner remembers the teen as respectful, even a loner.

He learned of Taylor's arrest just days after the fire while guarding the scene as investigators worked.

"I remember they were doing a test where they threw a match down on the carpeting and it was like throwing the match on gas; it went 'shewww.'"

All that time, Wagner says no one asked him about the Taylor he knew.

"I was not part of the investigation and I never talked to the investigating detectives as to what they had.  [It] really wasn't any of my business."

Wagner said he does not know whether Taylor set the fire or not. "I would hope that if he did, that it was an accident and if he didn't we owe him an apology."

Wagner also said he believes all officers involved in the investigation did the best they could with the technology available.

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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