Frisco police: Former Dallas firefighter sets house on fire during standoff

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by MARCUS MOORE, MARJORIE OWENS and STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on March 19, 2013 at 8:23 AM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 19 at 7:05 PM

FRISCO - A man accused of threatening his fiance with a gun set his home on fire during a standoff with authorities, according to the Frisco Police Department.

William Chad Coleman, a former Dallas firefighter, allegedly set fire to the home in the 6100 block of Arlington Dr. after a fight with his fiance. Police say he threatened to come out "blazing fire."

“He was mad and wanted to talk with her again,” said Greg Barnett, a Frisco Police spokesman. “And if he couldn't talk to her, he was going out in a blaze. We didn't know if he was taking about the fire or if he was going to come outside and start shooting at officers."

According to a statement from Frisco PD Sgt. Bradley J. Merrit, Coleman's fiance drove to the Frisco Police Department and told police Coleman, 38, was armed and acting in a "threatening manner." She told police Coleman chased her as she escaped the home and fled away in a vehicle.

Officers arrived at the scene to find Coleman armed with a pistol and two rifles inside his home, Merritt said. The Special Operations Unit was called to the scene and officers were able to make contact with Coleman.

One neighbor, Steve Benhoff, said he noticed police activity on his street at about 10 p.m. Monday. About an hour later, another neighbor, Susan McDermott, was told by police to stay inside her house and keep away from the windows.

During the three-hour standoff, Coleman called 911 several times.

"He made one comment that he had been smoking meth,” Barnett said . “He had been in the army. He used to be a firefighter."

Just after midnight, smoke started pouring from the garage as it quickly became engulfed in flames. Police heard several explosions, including one that rattled windows. They believe a propane tank exploded in the garage.

According to the neighbors, residents were evacuated as the blaze broke out at about 12:30 a.m.

"They came pounding on my door and told me to get out of the house because the house next door was on fire and they were afraid that it would hit mine," McDermott said.

Benhoff said he saw Coleman run from the house as the flames ripped through the residence.

"All of the sudden, the guy comes running out of the house," he said. "[Police] all started yelling, 'Get down; get down.' And then he laid down in the front yard there and they handcuffed him."

Coleman was treated for smoke inhalation at the Centennial Medical Center in Frisco, the statement read.

Frisco police say Coleman lost his job with the Dallas Fire Department in 2004 after he was arrested for an aggravated assault charge.

“They were always very friendly when they drove by,” McDermott said. “They pretty much kept to themselves."

Merritt said Coleman was later transported to the Frisco Jail, where he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. His bond was set at $150,000. Coleman may also face charges of arson as police continue their investigation into the incident.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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