DANVILLE, ILLINOIS — An Indiana man wanted for allegedly setting fire to a house in that state was arrested Friday evening in Danville following a police chase and a fiery crash.
A release from Danville police Commander Joshua Webb said Danville police became involved in a vehicle chase in the city about 5:10 p.m. Friday, not long after it had started near the state line.
They learned that Michael A. Scuteri, 34, of Lafayette, Ind., was wanted for setting fire earlier Friday to a home in rural Warren County, Indiana, about 15 miles east of the Illinois-Indiana state line and 15 miles north of Interstate 74.
Warren County sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Grimmett said the fire was discovered by a delivery person about 3:20 p.m. The female occupant was not home at the time.
Grimmett said there was moderate damage to the home, most of it smoke. Fire officials found a bed and box springs set on fire in the woman’s bedroom. Investigators believe it was started some time after about 1:30 p.m.
Grimmett said the woman living there had obtained a protective order from the court against Scuteri on May 3 and he had been served, but sheriff’s police believe he had violated it through the week, which made him a suspect in the arson. A witness also saw him entering the woman’s home, Grimmett said.
An Indiana State trooper spotted Scuteri in a vehicle on U.S. 136 and Indiana state route 63 just after 5 p.m. Central time and tried to stop him, Grimmett said.
However, the vehicle would not stop and the state trooper, a Fountain County deputy, and a Covington police officer pursued him to the state line. He then headed into Danville, where officers there took up the pursuit.
Webb said a Danville officer threw out “stop sticks,” designed to flatten vehicle tire. After running over them, the vehicle kept going, side-swiped another vehicle, then hit a pole and caught fire. The vehicle still continued on but hit a concrete retaining wall in front of the Christway Church at the corner of Main and Buchanan streets, where the vehicle fire grew even larger.
Danville firefighters quickly doused the fire and first responders got Scuteri out. He was the only occupant. He was taken to a hospital for what police described as non-life-threatening injuries.
Police believe a fuel line was ruptured when he hit the first pole and that sparked the fire. Danville police had called for the University of Illinois bomb squad to check out a briefcase that they had found inside the vehicle.
Out of caution the bomb squad detonated it but upon examination found it contained a laptop computer and other electronics, but nothing of an explosive nature.
Scuteri is expected to be taken back to the Warren County Jail in Williamsport, Ind., when he’s released from the hospital.