Princeton man barricades himself at home, holds police at bay until blaze forces him out
PRINCETON — The Princeton man who barricaded himself in his home for several hours before allegedly lighting it on fire Friday afternoon was taken into custody by Princeton Police Department and has been charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
Erik C. Truedson, 47, is the man police spent nine hours negotiating with Friday in an attempt to persuade him to surrender.
The standoff with Truedson began in the early morning hours on Friday.
Princeton Police Chief Tom Kammerer said his officers were dispatched around 4 a.m. to the area of First and Hudson streets for a man with a gun. He said police ended up chasing the guy into his own home at 625 N. First St., where he stayed alone for nine hours straight, and refused to surrender to police.
During a brief press conference following the incident, Kammerer said it got too hot for Truedson inside because of the fire. He started coming outside the home, but resisted efforts to take him into custody.
Kammerer said Truedson was taken to the ground and arrested by responding officers. He was taken to Perry Memorial Hospital by Princeton Ambulance.
According to a relative of the man involved in the situation, the incident stems from an early morning domestic dispute between Truedson and his former wife. Truedson allegedly confronted her with a gun before he was chased into his home where he stayed with several of his weapons in his possession.
Police quickly surrounded the home and secured a perimeter within gun range.
Throughout the afternoon, police, armed with rifles, could be seen walking within the perimeter.
A black Illinois State SWAT vehicle was parked in front of the home and was used to ram the front door of the home in attempt to get Truedson to come out.
Around 2:30 p.m., five loud pops could be heard coming from the home. Kammerer said it’s unknown what caused them at this point. It was only a short while later that smoke started billowing from the roof of the home.
As the smoke and flames of the fire grew bigger, a police officer from the Illinois State SWAT called out to Truedson over a loud speaker. The call, “Erik, your house is on fire. Come out with your hands up,” was made several times.
Princeton Fire Department was called to the scene at that point. Upon arrival, the SWAT vehicle had to be backed up away from the home to allow the fire truck to position itself in front where it was used to fight the fire.
Princeton Fire Chief Chuck Woolley said once his firefighters were on scene, they were instructed to preserve as much evidence as possible.
“This is not normally how we fight fires. Obviously you can see where the engine is at, and the guy was still inside the house with supposedly weapons. They were protected as best as they could,” he said.
“Under these circumstances, we generally don’t get that close (to a criminal investigation). With the protection, the guys felt comfortable so we set them up.”
Kammerer confirmed that the police department has never had a previous issue with Truedson before Friday’s incident.
Kammerer said this incident is going to require a lot of investigation, and could take up to a week before more information becomes available.
The agencies who assisted in this incident were Illinois State Police, LaSalle County Sheriff, Bureau County Sheriff, Secretary State Police and DePue Police Department. The Secretary State Police were called in for their explosive unit.