LAWRENCE, Mass. — A Methuen, Mass., man craving attention set his shirt on fire while he was locked inside a cell at the police station yesterday, police said.
Police heard the station's fire alarms go off around 7:15 a.m. They saw a fire in the cell where Xavier Pagan, 24, of 6 Ranger Road, Methuen, was being held.
Police moved Pagan and the other prisoners to another part of the station and called the Fire Department to help extinguish the blaze.
Pagan said he set the fire "because no one would listen to him," Officer Alan Laird wrote in his report.
"He just was being annoying, kicking stuff, banging stuff all night," police Chief John Romero said.
Pagan had a lighter with him in his cell, even though police had searched him after arresting him on motor vehicle charges around 2 a.m.
Surveillance video shot inside the cell block shows Pagan reaching into his waistband and pulling out a lighter. It also shows him spitting at a surveillance camera after he was brought into the police station.
Pagan stuffed his T-shirt between a fan in his cell and the Plexiglas against the cell bars and lit the shirt on fire. The flames scorched the Plexiglas, causing only minor damage. Everything in the cell is non-flammable, Romero said.
As smoke filled the windowless cell, Pagan got on the ground and appeared to be having a hard time breathing.
Pagan's bail was originally set at $40, but now police have charged him with arson and his bail has been upped to $2,500.
He is being held at the police station and is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow in Lawrence District Court.
Police are investigating to see how Pagan got the lighter into the cell undetected. Romero noted that the lighter was small and officers are not allowed by law to strip search prisoners without probable cause.
Pagan didn't have cigarettes with him, and officers had no other reason to suspect he would have a lighter, the chief said.
Police took Pagan to the hospital to get checked out as a precaution, then put him on suicide watch at the police station. Nobody was injured during the incident, Romero said.
Officer John Fornesi originally arrested Pagan on Bourque Street on charges of possessing/receiving a motor vehicle with a defaced VIN number and disorderly conduct.
Fornesi responded to a car accident and found Pagan's black Acura Integra pressed against a telephone pole. The officer asked Pagan for his license and registration, and Pagan asked why and said, "I was just trying to put it in the driveway," according to Fornesi's report.
The Acura had a damaged ignition and no visible VIN numbers. Police had the car towed.
"The defendant continually tried to interfere with the investigation by walking over to his vehicle, refused repeated demands to stay back, raised his voice with strong profanity, alarming some neighbors who were innocent spectators," Fornesi wrote.
Tags: arson, fire, shirt, police cell, caught, cam, tape, cops, station, surveillance, attention, flames, smoke, alarm
Location: Lawrence, Massachusetts, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved, featured
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