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Cops: Man arrested after pulling knife on firefighters

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

A 43-year-old man was arrested early Wednesday morning after allegedly threatening and pulling a knife on Detroit firefighters who were battling a blaze on the east side, police said.

The threat was allegedly made at about 12:30 a.m. on the 8200 block of Molena, a street that’s east of Van Dyke and dead-ends at the Molena-Castle Playground.

Firefighters arrived to put out a house fire that had spread to another location and were entering that second home to extinguish it, said Officer Dan Donakowski, a spokesman for the Detroit Police Department.

On the porch of that second home, firefighters were approached by a man who didn’t want them to enter the building, Donakowski said. That man allegedly pulled a knife and threatened firefighters on the scene, who called 911.

The Detroit Police Department arrived and arrested the man “without incident,” Donakowski said. He’s at the Detroit Detention Center, pending charges.

Dave Fornell, deputy commissioner of the Detroit Fire Department, told The News that there is no effort afoot to allow firefighters, or EMS workers, to be armed in Detroit.

“Not at all,” Fornell said, noting that fire chief Eric Jones, a former Detroit cop, took the job the same day two EMS workers were slashed with a box cutter. Even then, Fornell said, there was no appetite to arm first responders.

One reason for that stance, Fornell said: weapon retention.

“Chief Jones said that from Day One at police academy, you’re taught weapon retention. You’ve got to make sure your weapon is under your control at all times,” Fornell said. “When you’re fighting a fire, the last thing you’re going to be thinking of is weapon retention.”

Firefighters, he said, face a “multitude of unpredictables” whenever they show up to do their jobs, and weapon retention would be another variable to manage.

In this case, Donakowski said, firefighters never had to stop fighting the fire to address the alleged threat. But that is an option, he said, if a crowd becomes truly unruly. Another option, as happened early Wednesday morning: calling the cops.

jdickson@detroitnews.com