VIDEO – Desperate man starts a fire, screams at and threatens first responders and has to be taken down -VIDEO

VIDEO – Desperate man starts a fire, screams at and threatens first responders and has to be taken down -VIDEO

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At about 4:20 this afternoon a man started a fire near the treeline alongside Interstate 20 and was soon taken into custody.

The call came in of a fire along the interstate near 61 South at its intersection with Interstate 20 East. An officer traveling west on the interstate saw the fire and identified it as a pile of burning clothes from a man who was living in the woods near the fire.

The man, a white male in his mid to late 30s appeared to have been living in the wooded area for some time. The first firefighter on the scene was Warren County firefighter Zac Weber who happened to drive by and see the fire. He took his personal fire extinguisher out of his vehicle and walked up the gulley to the location of the fire where the man stopped him from doing anything. After a calm conversation, Weber walked away from the scene advising the Vicksburg Daily News that the individual was not talking coherently and it would be best for law enforcement to address him. The fire wasn’t threatening anything but the grass around it at that point.

Officer Lee Williams arrived shortly thereafter and approached the man who immediately began threatening Officer Williams. In response, Williams requested a backup unit and returned to his vehicle to get his gloves as Engine 7 could be heard in the background nearing the scene along the Interstate. When firefighters arrived they ran a hose up the hill to the fire and powered up the waterline. When the firefighter picked up the hose the man positioned himself between the water hose and the fire all the while yelling at and threatening the firefighter.

Officer Claude Billings arrived and began up the hill with Williams close by.  Billings could be seen ordering the man to the side as the man began screaming at Billings and tried to physically block Billing’s path.

With his left-hand Billings could be observed moving the individual away from the fire. Billings then uses his right hand to grab his handcuffs, out of view of the distressed man. The man clearly was not yielding to Billing’s commands so Billings, as can be seen in the video, put his left leg behind the legs of the man, grabbed his jacket with both hands and places the man on his back with Billings over him as Officer Williams runs up the hill to assist.

A struggle ensues with the man, at one point around the 4:10 mark, grabbing at William’s handgun and then at about the 4:18 mark grabbing at Billing’s handgun. About 40 seconds into the struggle the man gives up the fight and lies on his back as officers cuff him. It appeared they had sprayed him with pepper spray but Billing said the battery fell out of his taser during the struggle and they simply overpowered him.

Officer Lee Williams, the distressed man and Officer Claude Billings. Photo by David Day

The man can be observed fighting against the officers until they shut the door of the squad car.

“Hey, it’s all a part of the job,” smiled a confident Claude Billings after the man was placed into the backseat of the squad car. The man was taken to the VPD where he was booked and checked out by paramedics.

The fire was easily quenched by firefighters from Engine 7.