Reporting Rachel Slavik
ST. PAUL (WCCO) – A 54-year-old man is in custody after police say he sprayed his girlfriend’s son with lighter fluid and set him on fire.
The St. Paul Police Department is investigating the incident, which occurred before 7 a.m. Wednesday at a residence at 1374 Ames Ave. in St. Paul.
Nicholas Harsted, a neighbor, was the one who alerted police.
“Never expected it,” he said. “When I opened the door, I seen he was burnt all over his chest, his arms, his face. His hands were pretty torn up and he was asking for help.”
When officers arrived, they saw Antoine Willis, 19, of St. Paul, with serious burns. Investigators say his mother’s boyfriend, Curtis Reed, also of St. Paul, sprayed Willis with lighter fluid and set him on fire.
“It appears (Willis) may have been asleep when this happened,” said St. Paul Police Officer John Keating.
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Soon after Harsted called police, Christina Vang’s mother turned around to find Reed inside her home. He, too, was looking for help.
“He came over and asked to borrow the phone, and he had a bloody nose. He said his family had a fight, that’s all,” Vang said.
Reed did not mention that his girlfriend’s son was on fire, just minutes earlier. Police would later say Reed was the one who lit the match.
“He was really friendly. I didn’t think he’d do that,” Vang said.
St. Paul Fire Paramedics transported Willis to Regions Hospital. He is in fair condition.
“The injuries are not life threatening, but the burns that the victim suffered are very serious,” Keating said.
Reed was taken into custody but has not been charged.
Investigators say several people may have been involved in a physical dispute inside the residence hours prior to the assault. That’s the same story that Willis told Harsted.
“Curtis and his mom were fighting. He stepped in to help her out and when they got done fighting, Curtis told him not to go to sleep,” Harsted said.
It was a threat once thought to be empty that could have cost a man his life.
“He had said that he lit him on fire, that he was trying to kill him,” Harsted said.
Police will continue to investigate that altercation and the details that led up to the assault.