Huntsville Fire and Rescue say a man intentionally set his house on fire Thursday night, but officers didn’t arrest him. The fire happened on Searcy Drive in north Huntsville.
Huntsville police said the man told them that his sister was still inside the home that was on fire when they arrived, but checked and found no one inside. Officers responded to this home they found a man making incoherent statements and smoke coming from it. Police tells us that's when they asked for someone from the Crisis Intervention Team.
"Mental health officers are able to go out there. They have more extensive training on how to deal with those individuals with mental health. Talk to them maybe deescalate them and they can also get the in touch with the resources they may need," said Sgt. Tony McElyea who's a part of the team.
Police said the man told them there were snakes in the bath tub and he was being poisoned by his family.
"It's forgoing sending everyone with a mental health issue to jail. It gives them the resources they need to get help," McElyea added.
He said incidents like last night is an example of why knowing about mental health issues is important to the department.
"Studies show 1 in 5 people suffer from mental illness so it's important we train our officers on how to deal with these people," he said.
It's unclear tonight if the man will face charges for setting the house on fire. Huntsville Police said mental health officers normally respond to at least one call a day.