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Barricaded man suspected of torching house

August 6, 2010 12:31:01 AM PDT
A police standoff with a stabbing assault suspect took an unexpected turn as flames broke out inside his home, and once the flames were put out, a body was found inside.

A SWAT team was called to the scene. It happened on the 8300 block of Vanport Avenue in Whittier.

Homicide detectives were on scene Thursday to sort out what led up to the incident. The suspect's body was found in the front part of the house after crews put out the fire. The man is suspected of setting the house on fire.

"There was a lot of flames," said Jasmine Macias, a witness. "It was really high too, and a lot of my friends were calling me, 'There's smoke, is it by your house?' and I'm like 'Yeah, it's next door.'"

Macias injured her leg and foot when deputies told her to jump a fence to safety.

"They, they just started rushing towards me and I got scared, 'get out of the house, get out of the house,'" said Macias.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies were called to the house after a 71-year-old woman reported being stabbed several times by the man. She was taken to a hospital. Authorities arrived to find the house already on fire.

"The gentleman was on top of what we believe is his wife, he was stabbing her about the face," said L.A. County Sheriff's Spokesman Steve Whitmore. "A neighbor over and prevented more damage from being done by using a broom handle or a broomstick of some kind, pounding on his back."

"There was a suspect inside the home in his 60s," said L.A. County Fire Inspector Matt Levesque. "Apparently he barricaded himself. Sheriff's reported that he lit the house on fire."

Firefighters were forced to fight the blaze from outside the home.

"They were concerned about safety of the firefighters," said Levesque. "They weren't sure if the suspect was armed."

Firefighters knocked down the flames in less than half an hour, then searched the home for the suspect.

"He was in the front of the house, the front corner of the house, behind a mattress," said Levesque.

Some neighbors say they're not surprised something bad has happened at the house.

"There's always problems next door," said Macias. "There's fights, there's just like -- they always take it outside too. There's like two little girls in there. I just feel bad. I hope they're OK."

No one else was in the home when the fire started.

Authorities did not identify the man who died in the blaze.

Authorities would not confirm the relationship between the man and the woman he's accused of stabbing.

The female victim is recovering in the hospital. Her wounds were not life-threatening.


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