A Jamesport fugitive was arrested Thursday in connection with a Christmas Day attack that started with the burglary of his girlfriend's apartment and escalated into assault, arson and running down a police officer, Suffolk police said.
Manuel DeLeon Cuellar, 24, was tracked down to Plainfield, New Jersey, with the help of U.S. marshals from New Jersey and New York, along with Third Precinct detectives, police said.
At 2 a.m. Dec. 25, Cuellar broke into his girlfriend's Brentwood apartment on Westwood Drive, assaulted her and set fire to the apartment, police said.
As he drove off in his Chevrolet pickup truck, he struck a responding Third Precinct officer, police said, and crashed a short distance away. He then ran off and authorities sent out a request for the public's help in finding him, warning that he might be armed with a knife, police said.
Cuellar was charged with second-degree arson and will face more charges when he is brought back to New York, police said.
His girlfriend and the police officer were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
Mario Cabello, who was visiting a friend on the first floor of the house Thursday, said Cuellar had chased him with a knife.
Cabello said he had gone outside to investigate the smoke coming out of the basement apartment, where Cuellar's girlfriend lived with her child, and he tried to stop the man who was "lighting everything with a cigarette lighter."
"From the smoke, he came out with the knife to try to get me," said Cabello, who owns a small limousine service in Westchester.
Running back inside the first floor, he shoved a couch behind the front door and put his weight behind the door to keep it shut, Cabello said. By that time, he said, Cuellar's girlfriend had taken off with her child.
Cuellar, still holding the knife, stood outside the front door as about nine others, including several children, took cover in one room, where eventually they began coughing due to smoke rising from the basement, Cabello recalled.
"He stood there for a while," he said. "Nobody could come out because he was still there. When I saw a police officer coming, I screamed at him 'That's the guy.' "