Troopers: Arson suspect pepper-sprayed grandfather, found barricaded in treehouse

National News

Image is a lighter starting a fire

ARMSTRONG COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A 20-year-old was taken into custody after a stand-off in Western Pennsylvania where he barricaded himself in a treehouse after allegedly pepper-spraying his grandfather and setting their home on fire.

Joseph A. Hawk Jr. was taken into custody on Aug. 1 after troopers arrived for a reported sighting of the man. He then barricaded himself into a treehouse and needed to be negotiated down.

Hawk reportedly got into an argument with his grandfather over going outside of the house in Armstrong County. According to the grandfather, Hawk would continuously turn on the burners of the gas stove, with no flame, and tell him that he wished to burn the house down. The grandfather related to the police that he just wanted to have a peaceful day with his grandson.

Police noted that the grandfather also stated that Hawk placed a clear container with what he suspected to be gasoline on the kitchen table and told the grandfather to leave.

The grandfather then left the home and turned off the gas at the main shut-off valve.

By the time state police arrived on the scene, smoke was able to be seen coming from the house and flames could be observed coming from the windows and roof. A witness told police they saw Hawk running from the residence, according to the complaint.

Hawk was later found after police received an anonymous tip. After negotiating a peaceful surrender, Hawk was placed in Armstrong County Jail on $150,000 bail that he was unable to post.

Hawk is facing charges of arson, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, causing catastrophe, criminal mischief, and harassment.

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