A Fresno man who was angry about the quality of a cigarette given him by a family member attacked relatives with a crowbar and set a home on fire in central Fresno on Tuesday morning, police said.
Richard Garcia, 58, faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon and felony arson after the relatives were hospitalized and the home near West and Dakota avenues was heavily damaged, fire and police officials say.
The violence began on the 1100 block of West Lansing Way about 11:45 a.m., according to Lt. Joe Gomez. Police were called to the home after receiving a call that a man was attacking his relatives with the heavy steel tool.
Before officers arrived, they were alerted that the home was on fire. When they arrived, Gomez said officers encountered Garcia on the porch of the flaming home, holding a knife, his hands covered in blood, cursing and saying that he had killed someone who “deserved to die.”
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Officers ordered Garcia to drop the knife as firefighters arrived and knocked down the flames. No bodies were found in the house.
Gomez said trouble started as Garcia was in the house with his sister and brother-in-law, bummed a smoke and “got mad.
“He thought it was not a good cigarette,” the lieutenant said.
Garcia then got hold of the crowbar and began swinging it, striking his brother-in-law in the head and his sister in the leg and arm. Then, Garcia began attacking the two with a hammer, and finally chased both out of the home with the knife. The victims hid in a home down the street.
Investigators are trying to determine how Garcia, who was taken to the hospital with his hair singed, started the blaze, according to Deputy Fire Chief Richard Cabral.