Madison man charged with threatening to set blind woman on fire

A Madison man is charged with a felony crime after authorities say he wielded an open, gasoline can and threatened to set on fire a blind woman.43-year old Lewis Gallagher appeared in Dane County Court Tuesday on the charge of second degree recklessly endangering safety, as a domestic abuse crime.Authorities say the blind victim called 911 Nov. 2.  They say arriving officers found Gallagher with the gas can and matches at the west side Madison residence he shared with the woman, and say Gallagher set himself on fire.  Court records show Officer Joshua Acker used a fire extinguisher to put out flames around Gallagher.

A criminal complaint states the blind victim told investigators Gallagher told her "...he was going to 'light me on fire.' "  Records state she "...could immediately smell gasoline," after the threat was made, and Gallagher told detectives he had the gas can inside their home. 

"Mr. Gallagher's lucky he's alive,"  Court Commissioner Brian Ausmus says.  "Lucky that other people didn't get seriously hurt.  Sounds like there was gasoline poured on a car.  We could have had a giant explosion," Ausmus says.Ausmus set Gallagher's bail at $1,000.  Gallagher's attorney told the court the victim expressed willingness to continue to have contact with Gallagher, but Ausmus ordered Gallagher to have contact with the blind woman.

Police officials say Gallagher returned to the home unexpectedly, and complained about his job and its pay, and then complained about the woman, and made threats.

The criminal complaint states after the officer extinguished flames threatening Gallagher, he tried to run out into the street at South High Point Road to harm himself, but officers stopped him.

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