BERKELEY, Calif — A Sacramento woman and her friends were inches away from being lit on fire during a visit to a Boba Tea shop in Berkeley.
According to the Berkeley Police Department, around 9:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 14, officers were called to the 2500 block of Durant Avenue after receiving multiple calls of a man trying to light people on fire.
Before police arrived, the suspect, Brandon McGlone, 46, of Berkeley, told two men sitting outside of Artichoke Basille’s Pizza that he was going to light them on fire. McGlone knocked the food off their table and when the two men started to walk away, McGlone sprayed them with WD-40, a flammable, household chemical.
McGlone then walked towards the nearby Feng Cha Teahouse, where he sprayed and set fire to two people's hair. Other customers quickly helped the two extinguish the fire.
One of the customers close to the flames was Ellinor Arzbaecher, of Sacramento. She now attends school at UC Berkeley.
“I heard yelling and felt heat behind me and then turned around and there was a bunch of fire in my face," Arzbaecher said. "That freaked me out and I had no idea what was going on."
Arzbaecher and her friends were outside the shop before this happened when they encountered McGlone.
One of her friends she was with, Benjamin Weinberger, was sprayed by McGlone.
"I thought he was nuts and harmless, but then he walks over to us and comes right up in our faces and starts pushing. It was really weird and he wasn't totally on top of us yet," Weinberger said. "So my friend turned around and went in the store and I did too. As I was turning around, he sprayed me with WD-40. It wasn't really on my face, but on my neck and back of my head."
Customers tried to subdue McGlone after he sprayed and lit people on fire, but he pulled out a knife. When police arrived, they convinced him to drop the knife and were able to arrest him. Police later said they also found several Molotov cocktails with McGlone, as well.
McGlone has been charged with arson, criminal threats, throwing a flammable substance on another person, assault with a deadly weapon and possession of destructive devices.