Police fire ‘pepperballs,’ arrest Janesville man after he set house on fire

Joshua Kaster
Photo provided by the Janesville Police Department.

JANESVILLE, Wis. — A Janesville man was arrested Thursday after arming himself with a knife, damaging property and setting a house on fire, police say.

Around 2 p.m., Janesville officers responded to reports of a disturbance at a house along the 3600 block of Birdsong Lane. On the way, officers learned that a man was armed with a knife and breaking things inside the house, according to a social media post by the Janesville Police Department.

People inside the house were able to safely leave before police arrived, the post indicated.

Officers said Joshua Kaster, 29, of Janesville broke several windows at the house before heading into the backyard, which was surrounded by a privacy fence. Officers said they attempted to talk to Kaster — who was still armed with a knife — while he was outside. Kaster reportedly told the officers they would have to kill him and that he was going to set the house on fire, the post said.

Police said Kaster set the house on fire shortly after going back inside. Officers reported seeing flames and smoke coming from the house.

As smoke filled the house, Kaster went back outside, the post said. Officers said he was still armed with a knife and ignored commands to drop the weapon.

An officer fired several pepperballs as Kaster began moving through the yard, the post said. A pepperball is a projectile containing powdered chemicals that irritate the eyes and nose in a manner similar with pepper spray. None of the fired pepperballs physically hit Kaster, the post said.

Officers said Kaster dropped the knife as they entered the backyard. He was taken into custody without further incident, police said.

He faces several tentative charges including disorderly conduct, battery, criminal property damage and arson.