City man allegedly sets fire to toilet paper at center of argument

Published 8:34 am Thursday, July 23, 2015

An Elizabethton man was arrested Tuesday after police say he started a fire at his home during a domestic dispute over toilet paper.
Police arrested Eric Hansford, 42, of 416 Paty Place, and charged him with vandalism under domestic violence and possession of a handgun while under the influence.
Officers of the Elizabethton Police Department were dispatched to the home on Paty Place along with firefighters just minutes before midnight Monday after 911 received a call about a fire and a possible domestic disturbance.
When officers arrived, they saw a woman standing on one side of the home’s porch and what appeared to be a smouldering fire on the other end of the porch, EPD Cpl. Kirk Carrier said.
Officers also saw a man, later identified as Hansford, who appeared to be upset and was pacing back and forth while waving his arms and shouting. A gun was seen lying on a chair near Hansford, Carrier said.
“I heard Capt. (Art) Smithdeal order the subject away from the firearm that was lying in a chair on the porch,” Carrier said. “Mr. Hansford did not reach for the firearm, but he would not create distance between himself and the weapon.”
Smithdeal had his pistol unholstered and held by his side, Carrier said, adding he drew his taser. After a few moments, Hansford followed the officers orders and stepped away from the gun. He was then taken into custody by officers.
Once Hansford was handcuffed, firefighters were able to extinguish the fire.
Hansford told officers he was upset because his mother and stepdaughter had been arguing over many things, but specifically over toilet paper.
“Mr. Hansford said after their argument he collected all of the toilet paper and set fire to it on the south end of the front porch,” Carrier said. “I asked Mr. Hansford where the firearm came from, and he said, ‘I’ve always got it with me.’ ”
Hansford smelled like an alcoholic beverage and seemed drunk, Carrier said.
Hansford’s mother told police she knew her son was upset but did not know what he had done until officers and firefighters arrived at her home.
Officers took Hansford to a local hospital for an evaluation and then on to the Carter County Detention Center after he was cleared by hospital staff. Hansford was later released after posting bond and is scheduled to appear in Carter County General Sessions Court Tuesday.

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