Jason J. Molyet/Mansfield News Journal
ONTARIO - A Mansfield area man has been arrested in connection with a fire at a home where his two children were staying.
Samuel L. Davis, 41, was found asleep on the couch at 995 Landings Court after the Allied Special Operation Response Team served three warrants at the home charging aggravated arson, attempted aggravated murder and attempted murder, according to Sgt. Doug Noblet.
Davis' connection to the Landings Court home is unclear, Noblet said.
Davis reportedly had made threats that "he was not going to be taken alive by police," so SWAT was activated to "err on the side of safety," said METRICH Commander Lt. Keith Porch.
"He was taken into custody without incident," Porch said. "He kept saying he didn't know why we were here."
Davis' record shows multiple charges for substance abuse, including an incident in 1992 in which he was charged with drug trafficking and carrying a concealed weapon, according to Mansfield Municipal Court records.
Police knocked on the Landings Court door for more than an hour before entering the home, Porch said. Davis' vehicle was in the driveway.
The Ontario Police Department and Mansfield Police Department assisted in the arrest, Porch said.
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Davis became a suspect in a fire on the 800 block of Danwood Road around 7 a.m. Monday after he fled from the scene and refused to cooperate with police, Mansfield police Capt. Ken Coontz said.
"Officers did make contact (with Davis) by telephone a short time after they arrived on scene (on Danwood), so he knew they wanted to talk to him," Coontz said. "He said he'll come back to talk, but he never showed up."
They were not able to contact him again, Coontz said.
Davis reportedly was watching his two children, ages 9 and 13, at the home while their mother was at work when he set the kitchen stove on fire, Coontz said. He was not believed to be living at the house with them, Coontz said.
"It appears to be intentional," Coontz said. "No other suspects are being sought."
The house is owned by Joseph and Thelma Stimens, according to the Richland County Auditor's Office.
Thelma Stimens alleged her tenant's ex-husband piled newspapers on top of the electric stove and turned all four burners on.
"The 13-year-old awoke to the smoke alarm, grabbed her little sister and got them out of the house," Noblet said.
Thelma Stimens said she had put up the smoke detector the week before.
"I'm so glad I put the brand new one up before she moved in here," she said. She said the tenant moved in Oct. 1.
"This brings to light the importance of smoke alarms, because once the stove caught fire, the 13-year-old was alerted by the detectors," Coontz said. "She was able to wake up her sister and get them out of the house.
"Those smoke alarms may have very well saved their lives."
BY: Lou Whitmire and Kaitlin Durbin/ Mansfield News Journal
Gannett/Mansfield News Journal