Vandergrift man charged with assaulting police
The owner of a Vandergrift house that was the origin of a fire that destroyed his home and two others a week ago is in the Westmoreland County jail.
Vandergrift police charged Thomas Steven Cassidy, 40, of 519 Burns St. with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness stemming from incidents the night of the fire on Dec. 27.
Police have not charged Cassidy in connection with the fire.
The cause of the fire that destroyed Cassidy's home, two others and a garage remains under investigation, said Steve Potoka, chief of Vandergrift No. 2 Fire Department.
Potoka said the fire started in a room at the back of Cassidy's home, which West-moreland County property records show he bought in July.
Investigators on Thursday were sifting through the debris and sending evidence to a laboratory for analysis, Potoka said. The fire was considered suspicious.
The state police fire marshal who is investigating the fire could not be reached for comment on Friday.
In court documents, two Vandergrift police officers responding to the fire about 10:30 p.m. said they found Cassidy standing in front of his house “screaming and yelling.” Officers knew the man was Cassidy because they had arrested him for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct earlier that evening.
Police had been called to 519 Burns about 5 p.m. Police said Cassidy was burning boxes in a fire pit under his back deck, in violation of the borough's restrictions on open burning.
Cassidy allegedly became confrontational with police, and was taken into custody to “sober up.” He was cited for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct and taken home about 8 p.m.
In the second encounter, police said they repeatedly told Cassidy to get across the street and stay out of the way of firefighters. They allege he refused to obey their orders.
After officers told Cassidy he was under arrest, they say he pulled away when they tried to handcuff him. The officers said they had to wrestle Cassidy to the ground. Cassidy continued to fight with officers by pushing them and trying to crawl away, they say.
One officer, Lee Bartolicius, suffered an injured left hand during the fracas.
In the Vandergrift police station, Cassidy allegedly told police he wanted to kill himself by taking one of the officers' guns and shooting himself in the head.
Cassidy was taken to Allegheny Valley Hospital for a mental health evaluation, and was later transferred to Butler Memorial Hospital's mental health ward. He was arrested upon being released from the hospital on Thursday, police said.
Cassidy was arraigned on Thursday before Judge Cheryl Peck-Yakopec and jailed on $100,000 straight bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 14 in Peck-Yakopec's office in Allegheny Township.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New Kensington homicide suspect faces trial on tampering charge
- Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation donates $12,000 to revamping middle school library
- New Kensington-Arnold employee suspended over alleged inappropriate contact with student
- Freezing rain menaces Alle-Kiski Valley roadways
- Rates rise for Upper Allegheny customers
- DUI checkpoints take on dangerous drivers
- Upper Burrell man accused of selling Suboxone
- Brackenridge high-rise infested with bed bugs
- Buffalo Township woman sentenced to jail for selling pot
- Alle-Kiski Valley slips into the holiday spirit with Light Up Night festivities
- Stretch of Route 56 to close