Man arrested after breaking into home, starting fire, according to Merced deputies

A man accused of burglarizing a Merced County home and setting it on fire was arrested by deputies over the weekend.

Merced County Sheriff deputies responded at about 4:24 p.m. Saturday to the 1000 block of Hunt Road in the Gustine area for a report of a possible burglary in progress, according to a Merced County Sheriff’s Office news release.

According to authorities, the victim told deputies that when she returned to her residence and attempted to enter the home, she was confronted by an unknown man. According to the release, the suspect, identified as 30-year-old Lynn Stephen Thayer III of Stockton, reportedly yelled, “get out, this is my house,” and slammed the door in the woman’s face.

When deputies arrived on scene, they found that Thayer had covered the windows of the house with what appeared to be sheets and refused law enforcement commands to exit, according to Deputy Daryl Allen. Authorities said the Merced County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team was requested at the scene after hearing what were possibly gunshots coming from the area.

As the SWAT Team was arriving on scene, deputies reportedly observed a fire set from inside the residence begin to spread, according to the release. Allen said the man appeared to have been lighting candles but it is unknown just what started the fire. Authorities said Thayer climbed on top of the house through an air duct and was arrested by deputies after jumping off the roof.

According to Allen, Cal Fire responded to the scene and contained the fire to an area of the home. Allen said Cal Fire is investigating the cause of the fire.

Thayer was booked into Merced County Jail on suspicion of felony burglary and arson of inhabited structure, according to jail records. He remains in custody in lieu of $250,000 bond.

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