Metro-East News

Belleville police have arson suspect in custody

Belleville police have one person in custody who they believe committed arson Tuesday morning in the 600 block of South Pennsylvania Avenue.

Capt. John Moody said officers and firefighters were called out to the neighborhood at 9:42 a.m. on reports of a small fire on the porch of a house.

When crews arrived, they found one house on the street had smoke coming from an enclosed porch. No one was home when the fire started. Another house nearby, he said, smelled of gasoline near the porch and back door. That house was occupied.

Belleville Fire Department Chief Tom Pour said the fire on the porch was so small they used an extinguisher to put it out.

“We called our fire investigators and they determined —they ruled out all natural means for the fire to start —so the origin of the fire is definitely suspicious,” Pour said.

Those fire investigators are working with police detectives to process the evidence and investigate further.

“After detectives spoke with several witnesses in the area they found a subject was walking away from the area carrying a gas can,” Moody said. “One of the witnesses that detectives said that after seeing the person they walked outside they saw smoke coming from a neighbor’s home with a enclosed porch.”

A witness also said the person walked over to a vehicle that the witness knew did not belong to the person.

No one was injured Tuesday morning.

“The officers then did a search of the area and located the subject,” Moody said. “The subject was taken into custody. He did put up a struggle, but he was taken into custody without incident.”

Charges have not yet been filed. Moody said he anticipates charges will be filed further into the investigation.

“At some point we will be pursuing charges with state’s attorney office, absolutely,” he said.

In a Facebook post, Belleville police stated the incident is being investigated as an arson, attempted aggravated arson and burglary.

No additional information has been released.

Anyone with information about this arson incident is asked to call Belleville police at 618-234-1212 or CrimeStoppers at at 866-371-8477.