Suspected arsonist allegedly threatened girlfriend before Mason Street fire

tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 4, 2014 

Minutes before Eric Lamar Person allegedly set fire to a Mason Street home on Jan. 17, he allegedly called his girlfriend and threatened her life, according to court testimony.

Person, 26, faced nine counts of aggravated assault, one count of arson and one count of terroristic threats during the Tuesday morning Recorder's Court hearing. The terroristic threats charge was later dropped.

Firefighters arrived at the 2062 Mason Street home at about 10:10 p.m., to find a crowd of residents standing away from the blaze. The 10 escaped occupants of the home originally thought that everyone had been evacuated from the home, until a mother realized that her 6-year-old daughter was missing.

Rescue workers quickly found the girl inside, hiding under the covers in one of the bedrooms. She was rescued without injury.

A resident later told arson investigators that she received a call from her boyfriend, Person, minutes before the fire. According to testimony, Person told his girlfriend that she and every other person in the structure was going to die. Five minutes later, her son ran to tell her that the house was on fire.

Judge Michael Cielinski dropped the charge of terroristic threats because no other witnesses claimed to hear the phone call.

At least nine people were inside the home when Person allegedly set fire to the building. Arson investigators confirmed during the hearing that the evidence found matched typical arson investigations.

Person denied the charges, and said he never threatened his girlfriend.

"Me and her are in love with each other," Person said. "I did not try to hurt her. I don't know where this is coming from."

Judge Michael Cielinski set no bond on Person's aggravated assault charges, in light of previous charges. His remaining bond was set at $100,000.

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