Prosecutors: Toms River arson suspect wanted cops to kill him
BERKELEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) Authorities say a man purposely set his car on fire at a southern New Jersey business so police officers would respond there and kill him during a confrontation.
Ocean County prosecutors say 26-year-old Thomas Foti, of Toms River, is charged with aggravated arson. His bail was set at $150,000 cash, and he was taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
The fire occurred at a Berkeley Township business and was reported around midnight Thursday. Witnesses told responding officers that a man told them he had set the fire, and he then fled the scene on foot.
A man who fit the description provided by witnesses was soon located at another business. Officers learned the man was holding a pointed shard from a flower pot he had broken at a nearby florist shop, but they were able to subdue him without incident.
Prosecutors say Foti had planned to grab a large knife he had in his car and confront police when they arrived on scene, hoping they would kill him. But he forgot the knife in the burning car.
The fire was started shortly after Foti bought two small gasoline containers Thursday night at a gas station, investigators said. Foti allegedly put gasoline on his hat and set the hat on fire before throwing it toward his car.
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