Police: Man with loaded shotgun arrested on suspicion of arson

Police arrested a 34-year-old Berkeley man on Thursday after he reportedly set his home on fire and was outside “acting erratically” with a loaded shotgun, authorities said.

Police said they recovered this loaded shotgun during a call on Stuart Street on Thursday. Photo: BPD

Police arrested a 34-year-old Berkeley man on Thursday morning after he reportedly set his home on fire and was outside “acting erratically” while holding a loaded shotgun, authorities report.

Police initially responded to the 1500 block of Stuart Street, near Sacramento Street, “to check on the welfare of a person who was acting erratically,” BPD said Friday in a prepared statement.

Neighbors told police they had heard a man inside a duplex on Stuart Street yelling and banging on walls, “and the sound of glass breaking,” BPD said.

Officers tried to speak with the man but he refused to open the door, BPD said: “After repeated attempts to speak with the man failed, officers concluded that the man was by himself and did not appear to be in any immediate danger and left the scene.”


Ten minutes after police left, at about 10 a.m., someone called authorities to alert them that the duplex on Stuart Street was now on fire, BPD said. And a man — later identified as Ian French — was outside the building “holding a shotgun and acting erratically,” according to BPD.

Police went back to Stuart and detained the man while the Berkeley Fire Department extinguished the fire.

BPD arrested French on suspicion of arson and carrying a loaded firearm, according to Friday’s statement.

Berkeley police on Stuart Street on Thursday, March 11, 2021. Photo: Peter Kay

According to court records, French has a pending misdemeanor criminal case from January in which he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and grand theft of personal property in connection with an incident that took place Aug. 29, 2020.

Ian French is not listed in the Alameda County Inmate Locator system so no further information was immediately available about his case.

Emilie Raguso is Berkeleyside’s senior editor of news. Email: emilie@berkeleyside.com. Twitter: emraguso. Phone: 510-459-8325.