A Washington County man remains in a Westchester hospital, where he's being treated for burns suffered in a fire he allegedly started on purpose. YNN's Matt Hunter has more from Hudson Falls.
HUDSON FALLS, NY – "It could have taken out this whole neighborhood and taken everybody with it," Hudson Falls resident Joel Davis said.
It's unlikely many residents on North Street in Hudson Falls got a decent night's sleep Monday, as firefighters and police surrounded the home of Robert Fenton.
"I was woken up by my wife saying the police were here,” said Davis, who lives across the street from Fenton. “We had to evacuate the neighborhood essentially."
"I guess the cop had an M16 or a huge rifle and you have the SWAT team across the street," said Shawna Russell, another neighbor.
Hudson Falls police officers first responded to Fenton's house shortly after 10 p.m. following a domestic complaint involving his girlfriend.
"He held her down on the ground, took her phone, smashed her phone," Hudson Falls Police Chief Randy Diamond said.
Fenton did not answer the door during their first visit so officers left. Roughly two hours later around 12:20 Tuesday morning, he reportedly called police himself.
"At that time he made suicidal comments to the officer on the phone," Diamond said.
What followed was a three-hour standoff with Fenton barricading himself inside the home. According to a relative who escaped unharmed, he threatened to blow up the house.
"They observed him tugging on the gas line to the stove, he was trying to ignite it," Diamond said.
"As me and my children woke up and came outside, all you could smell was gas," Russell said.
In addition to making suicidal threats, Diamond says Fenton also threatened officers and deputies who had surrounded his house.
"A number of times he invited me into the residence, telling me he 'had a surprise for me,'" Diamond said.
After shutting off the gas and evacuating the neighborhood, authorities entered the front door, where they say an injured Fenton set fire to his living room.
"The fire was knocked down within minutes and Mr. Fenton was taken into custody."
Suffering gashes to both arms and severe burns, Fenton was taken to Glens Falls Hospital and later Westchester Medical Center. According to Diamond, a knife was recovered from the residence and it’s believed his wounds were self inflicted.
By 4:30 a.m., neighbors had returned home, still not entirely sure what to make of the frightening ordeal.
"We all kind of knew he was a little out there but you don't ever expect this from anybody really," said Davis, who added he’s known Fenton since high school but rarely talks with him in the neighborhood.
"It's such a relief because it was scary,” Russell said. “You just never know what could happen."
Police, who've yet to charge Fenton with a crime, did not have an update on his condition Tuesday afternoon.