Updated: Jun 23, 2020
By Joe Johnson
State and local authorities were investigating an arson incident in Oconee County last week in which in a suicidal armed man set fire to his home.
The man, identified in an Oconee County sheriff’s incident report as 65-year-old Jean Pierre Crisan, reportedly on Friday sent a 1:45 p.m. email to a family member in which he stated that he was suicidal, “was tired of everything and that he had a gun and not to call the cops or there would be dead cops.”
Chief Deputy Lee Weems praised deputies for their response to “a very tense situation that could have gone wrong in so many ways.”
Upon arrival to the home on New High Shoals Road in Bishop, deputies established a perimeter around the residence and when Crisan’s wife came out, she was escorted to a patrol car, according to the sheriff’s office.
“She stated that her husband had been making threats all day, but otherwise, she was not cooperative,” according to the incident report.
Crisan then came out of the front door holding two handguns and ignored commands to drop the weapons as he walked to a shed in the yard, according to the report.
He was holding the guns by their frames in what Weems described as “in a non-threatening manner,” and when deputies called for him to drop the guns Crisan reportedly danced in circles and called for deputies to shoot him.
The chief deputy said he was “proud of the restraint shown by our folks” who held fire because they recognized that Crisan did not pose an immediate threat because he carried the firearms in a manner in which they could not be fired.
According to the incident report Crisan emerged from the shed with a gasoline can which he took inside the house along with the guns.
Crisan was next seen on an upper-floor balcony of a room that he then set on fire, according to the report.
Within moments the house began to be engulfed in fire, according to the incident report.
Sheriff Scott Berry spotted Crisan in an upstairs window at the other end of the house, but the man would not communicate, the sheriff’s office said.
Capt. James Hale, the county’s sheriff-elect then placed a ladder to the upstairs window. As deputies called for Crisan to use the ladder, the man ran from the back door without any weapons and laid on the ground where deputies took him into custody.
Berry said that Crisan was transported to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation and a psychological evaluation.
The man’s wife was uninjured.
Firefighters from across the county responded to the incident, but the dwelling was deemed a total loss.
As of Monday afternoon, Weems said that Crisan had not been criminally charged but the incident continued to be investigated by the sheriff’s and state fire marshal's offices.