Man who threatened to set himself on fire Downtown jailed on three charges

January 24, 2014 

A 45-year-old Boise man who threatened public suicide and spurred a tense confrontation in Downtown Boise Thursday now faces charges of attempted second-degree arson, second-degree stalking and resisting officers.

The man, who reportedly smelled of gasoline, held a lighter and threatened to set himself and a minivan on fire, was taken to a local hospital for mental evaluation before he was booked into the Ada County Jail Thursday, BPD Communications Director Lynn Hightower said.

“Looking at everything that this involved, officers discussed this with prosecutors and decided that putting him in jail was the best thing for everyone involved, including the victim of the stalking,” Hightower said.

The tense events began with an incident in an ongoing stalking situation, she said, and witnesses in the 1300 block of Grove Street reported the man held a lighter and smelled of gas. Someone called police at 1:30 p.m., and officers arriving a short time later found the suspect in a minivan stopped in the street between the Modern Hotel and the Linen Building. The man told officers he was going to light himself and his van on fire, police said.

The standoff lasted less than an hour, but there were numerous tense moments before the man surrendered at 2:15 p.m., Hightower said. Roads were blocked, people in adjacent businesses were advised to take cover, a crisis negotiation team was called in and the block filled with emergency personnel: 15 police cars, three fire engines and Ada County Paramedics vehicles.

The suspect is being held on $125,000 bond. Attempted arson is a felony, and the other two charges against him are misdemeanors. Idaho online court records do not show any previous criminal charges against him.

Hightower said the suspect reportedly had been stalking someone, but that crime was not reported to police until Thursday’s incident.

The stalking victim was provided with resources to help prevent domestic violence, Hightower said. For anyone else who may need them, those resources include FACES Family Justice Center at 577-4400, and the Women’s and Children’s Alliance hot line at 343-7025.

Police encourage anyone feeling suicidal to call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Idaho Statesman generally does not identify people involved in incidents of suicide or attempted suicide.

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