A Cahokia man used a blow torch and a gun to keep family members in a room of their home, police say, and his actions caused a fire as well.
Frederick L. Nihells, 36, of Cahokia, is charged with aggravated arson, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated assault, and domestic battery. He was charged on Tuesday and held at the St. Clair County Jail on $100,000 bail.
Court documents say Nihells used a Ruger LCP 9 mm handgun to prevent a woman and two minor children from leaving a bedroom at their home. Other charges allege he used a gun and a blow torch to threaten one of the children, that he pushed a filing cabinet into that child, and that he struck the woman on the head with his hand.
The most serious charge of aggravated arson alleges that Nihells knew that family members were present when he committed the arson.
Cahokia police were not immediately available to comment on the conditions or whereabouts of the children involved.