A Belleville man will spend four years in prison for tring to blow up a trailer home in March.
James J. Dobbs, 52, pleaded guilty but mentally ill on Wednesday before St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert Haida.
“The officers in this case showed great courage when they subdued this mentally ill man and secured the lighter knowing the gas was leaking,” said State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly. “Thank God, they prevented the entire neighborhood from going up in flames. Officers are constantly protecting the public from dangers posed by the mentally ill.”
Belleville police were called to Arapahoe Drive on the afternoon of March 20 by a property manager, who told them that Ruby E. Summers, 50, was banned from the park. Summers left, but police were called back when she returned later. She was charged with criminal trespass.
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It was then, police said, that they heard Dobbs yelling that he was going to blow up his trailer. Officers in the area smelled natural gas and called the fire department.
When firefighters attempted to shut off the gas, Dobbs showed a lighter out of the trailer window, police said.
Police set up a perimeter and evacuated nearby mobile homes.
Dobbs came out of the trailer at 109 Arapahoe and sat on the front step. While one of the officers engaged him in a conversation, two others sneaked up on him and took him to the ground.
Police reported that Dobbs told them he was angry that Summers was arrested.
Dobbs pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to cause a catastrophe, a Class 1 felony.
Thomas Philo, Dobbs’ attorney, asked for probation. Dobbs has no previous felony convictions.
Assistant State’s Attorney Erin Conner prosecuted Dobbs.
Summers’ trespass case is still pending.