Lancaster man accused of setting lawnmower on fire during domestic dispute

LANCASTER — A 31-year-old Lancaster man is facing several charges, including one count of arson, after allegedly setting a lawnmower on fire during a domestic dispute Wednesday afternoon on the 200 block of East Lemon St.

In addition to arson, William Hassel is also charged with two counts of simple assault, one count of terroristic threats, and one count of criminal mischief in the incident, which occurred at 1:03 p.m.

According to Lancaster Police, officers were initially dispatched to a home on the 200 block of East Lemon Street, near East Madison Street, for the report of a vehicle fire. As officers were on their way to the scene, dispatchers provided additional information that the incident was a domestic dispute, and that the fire had been intentionally set by a man at the home, who was still at the scene.

The man had allegedly set a push lawnmower on fire, police say.

When officers arrived, they found that the lawnmower was engulfed in flames. The suspect, later identified as Hassel, was standing near the blaze, holding a folding pocket knife, according to police. Officers observed that Hassel had cuts on his hands and was bleeding. He was taken into custody without incident, police say.

Shortly after police arrived, firefighters came to the scene to extinguish the fire on the lawn mower.

The victims told police that Hassel came to the home to confront his ex-girlfriend and another person that were inside the victim’s vehicle, a Subaru Legacy station wagon. The male victim is unable to walk without crutches, and was confined to the vehicle while Hassel fought with his ex-girlfriend, police say.

During the confrontation, Hassel allegedly grabbed a gas can from the trunk and attempted to douse the vehicle in gasoline, but the victim was able to get the can away from him before he could do so. Hassel allegedly punched the victim in the arm several times while they fought for possession of the gas can, the victim told police.

Hassel then allegedly went back into the vehicle, grabbed a tire iron, and smashed one of the rear windows on the driver’s side of the vehicle, police say. He then allegedly used his pocket knife to puncture three of the vehicle’s tires. He told his ex-girlfriend that he wanted to harm the male victim inside the vehicle, according to police.

Police say Hassel then went into the rear of the vehicle and opened the fuel cap to a lawn mower that was inside the vehicle’s storage area. The mower is the property of the victim’s sister, and the victim had been preparing to deliver it to her, police say. Hassel managed to use a lighter to ignite the fuel in the mower, according to police. The victim managed to pull the mower from the car, but not before a section of the rear bumper had been melted and damaged by the flames, police say.

Hassel was taken to the Lancaster Bureau of Police Station for processing and was later arraigned. His bail was set at $50,000.