Lethbridge, Alberta – Lethbridge Police have charged a 38-year-old male with arson, mischief and other offences in connection with an incident at a northside home where he armed himself with weapons, refused to leave and set the house on fire.
On May 30, 2023 at approximately 1:50 p.m. police responded to a report that a male was threatening a female inside a home along the 600 block of Stafford Drive North. Upon police arrival the female was able to leave the home safely. When confronted by police the male brandished two hatchets and began to approach the officers. He refused to drop the weapons and would not leave the residence. Police confirmed no one else was inside and the home was subsequently contained.
Members of the Critical Incident Team were deployed and police made multiple attempts to contact the male, who began damaging property and throwing objects out a window. A short time later smoke and flames were observed inside the home. Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services attended and were able to extinguish the fire and prevent it from spreading to a neighbouring home. While firefighters were working to put out the fire, the male exited the home and was subsequently apprehended by Police Service Dog Robby. He was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Further investigation determined the male does not reside at the property but had been allowed to stay there temporarily.
The home sustained significant damage as a result of the fire and is currently uninhabitable. No one was injured and there was no damage to neighbouring properties, which were evacuated during the incident. Police also closed public access to Dave Elton Park as a safety precaution.
Joe Zwart, 38, of Cowley, is charged with arson, possession of a weapon dangerous to the public and two counts each of mischief, assaulting a peace officer and failing to comply with a release order.
Zwart is currently in custody awaiting a Judicial Interim Release hearing.
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