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Man taken into custody after building evacuated for arson investigation

Published On: Jul 19 2013 12:16:41 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 20 2013 05:57:53 PM CDT
Steve Lyons

Steve Lyons

MADISON, Wis. -

Police have taken Steven Lyons into custody after an arson investigation prompted officers to evacuate an apartment building and close off traffic in the area.

Police said investigators were assisting the Madison Fire Department after a small fire was reported in a hallway of the building Friday morning around 5 a.m. Madison Police Department spokesperson Joel DeSpain said while going through the building, officers came in contact with Lyons, who then locked himself inside his apartment.  

"We tried to negotiate with him to have him come out peacefully," DeSpain said.

According to DeSpain, officers ultimately used a type of pepper spray gas and a less-lethal round called a bean bag round of shots to evict Lyons from the apartment. DeSpain said officers have a tentative charge of arson against Lyons, and other charges may be pending.

A chemical odor was detected coming from the residence, leading to the evacuation at about 10 a.m., according to police.

Jonathan Bedford, a seven-year resident of that apartment building, said he plans to move out after watching the standoff go on outside his front door.

"This is it," Bedford said. "This is scary."

Other neighbors said this isn't the first time officers have been called to the apartment in association with Lyons.

"About three weeks ago, within a 24-hour period, police, fire, ambulance, the whole nine yards had shown up three times," neighbor Andrew Zabawa said. "Each time it was because someone in the building complained abuot smelling chemical, and each time they found it was the same guy -- Steve Lyons."

On June 25, Lyons was charged with the misdemeanor charge of intentionally abusing a hazardous substance after allegedly huffing the chemical tuluene, according to a criminal complaint. He was also charged with battery by prisoners, a felony, when he punched an officer in the face at the Dane County Jail, the complaint said.

Traffic was closed in the 1200 blocks of East Gorham Street and East Johnson Street and other streets in the area.

Madison Metro provided a bus for evacuated residents to keep cool.

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