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Valley News Dispatch

Police: A Washington Twp. man goes on rampage, sets house on fire, then police pull him out

Dave Williams
| Wednesday, July 25, 2018, 11:00 p.m.

A Washington Township man attacked an elderly woman and a man who came to her defense Wednesday before barricading himself in the house, tossing heavy objects at police and trying to burn down the house, police said.

Police said they stormed into the home once he set it ablaze and forcibly pulled him out.

Police Chief Scott Slagle said David Gibson, 44, went on a rampage about 1:20 p.m. at a house along Martin Drive. He said Gibson beat an 82-year-old woman, who as an assault victim, is not being identified by the Tribune-Review. The chief said Gibson beat the victim about her face and body, and he held a knife to her throat and tried to strangle her.

Slagle said a man arrived and tried to divert Gibson’s attention from the woman by taunting him. It worked long enough for the woman to get loose, but then Gibson allegedly attacked the man with a pipe and a sledgehammer.

Somehow, the two victims fled outside and into a truck. As they started to drive off, Gibson ran alongside the pickup and smashed out the windows, police said.

At that point, Slagle was pulling up. That prompted Gibson to retreat to the house’s doorway, where he taunted police to “come and get me, (expletive)!” before going inside.

Slagle said Gibson suddenly tossed a 10-pound gym weight at him through a closed window, but he missed.

As he waited for backup to arrive, the chief said, he could hear Gibson moving furniture and barricading the door.

After other officers arrived, Gibson appeared at the back door long enough to throw an iron skillet at an officer, whom Slagle would not identify. The officer was hit in the elbow hard enough to require stitches, cause extensive bruising and leave the officer in a sling.

Police backed off while planning their next move.

Slagle said Gibson was next seen at a second-story window, waving nunchucks and a 20-inch machete. He then threw various objects out the window, among them dresser drawers, picture frames and parts of a gym weight set.

At that point, police called for a state police team, but the incident ended before they arrived.

Slagle said Gibson made several threats that he’d burn down the house. About 2:30 p.m., flames erupted from that second-story window.

“We decided to go in and get him,” Slagle said, but just getting to him proved difficult. Gibson had tossed a mattress set down the staircase, along with clothing, to impede officers’ progress. A refrigerator was upended to block the back door.

Slagle said he and an Allegheny Township officer used fire extinguishers to keep the fire at bay until firefighters arrived.

Slagle said neither officer was injured.

Gibson was taken to Forbes Hospital, where he was treated for cuts, for the effects of being shocked with a Taser and for observation.

Slagle said the elderly woman and man were treated at the scene and then opted to seek treatment by private transportation.

The chief said the house sustained fire damage to an area of about 10 square feet on the second floor and moderate water damage.

Gibson faces four counts of aggravated assault, strangulation, arson, unlawful restraint and lesser charges.

Washington Township officers were assisted by police from Allegheny Township, Vandergrift, Kiski Township, Apollo and state police.

Firefighters responded from Washington Township, Apollo No. 2, Oklahoma Borough, Vandergrift No. 1 and Lower Burrell’s Kinloch station.

Dave Williams is Tribune-Review night city editor. You can contact Dave at 724-226-4667, dwilliams@tribweb.com or via Twitter @DWilliamsVND.

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