Cops: Firefighter drives van into home, sparks blaze

2013-12-10T15:15:00Z 2013-12-11T19:24:23Z Cops: Firefighter drives van into home, sparks blazeJohn Scheibel john.scheibel@nwi.com, (219) 548-4358 nwitimes.com
December 10, 2013 3:15 pm  • 

HEBRON | A Hobart firefighter barred from his house rammed a van into the residence early Tuesday while police inside spoke to his wife about an earlier domestic incident, authorities said.

The crash sparked a fire, and the man told the officers "Just shoot me," before climbing back into the burning vehicle, police said.

John Wall, 48, of 617-4 West 650 South, was badly burned and taken to Franciscan St. Anthony Health hospital in Crown Point.

His condition was unknown Tuesday evening.

Two Porter County sheriff's officers were taken by ambulance to Porter Regional Hospital for smoke inhalation, Porter County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Larry LaFlower said. One officer had minor burns on his forearm. They were treated and released.

Wall was barred from the residence following a Nov. 25 fight with his wife in which he allegedly threw her to the ground and fired a gun.

LaFlower said Wall's wife called authorities Tuesday morning, reporting he broke in and attacked her. His wife told police she was able to convince him to leave their home before their children woke up.

While police were inside the home investigating the alleged attack, which included punching and choking, Wall returned to the home and drove his van into the rear of the home, LaFlower said.

LaFlower said the van burst into flames, catching the house on fire.

The officers confronted Wall and he stated, "Just shoot me!" He got back into the burning van, LaFlower said, and the officers pulled him from the vehicle and extinguished flames on his body.

LaFlower said Wall suffered serious burns.

An ambulance, escorted by sheriff's police, rushed Wall to Franciscan St. Anthony Health hospital. A hospital spokesman said he was transferred, in critical condition, to a specialty-care facility.

Wall's wife did not suffer any burn injuries. No one else was home when the fire started.

Wall was on leave from the Hobart Fire Department, where he is a battalion chief, after allegedly pointing a gun at his wife Nov. 25.

Wall was charged in that incident with intimidation, criminal recklessness, pointing a firearm and domestic battery.

Police said Wall pulled a gun from his coat pocket and pointed it at his wife's head at their home. She struggled to move the gun away from her head and Wall pushed her to the ground.

Police said Wall fired the gun, then pointed the gun at himself, grabbed his wife's hand and told her to shoot him. He calmed down and checked himself into a hospital for evaluation, police said. He was arrested after being released from the hospital.

Tuesday's incident case remains under investigation by Porter County Sheriff's Department detectives, Porter County Fire Investigative Strike Team, the Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.

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