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Man found with lighter, gas accused of attempted arson

(MCT) — A Chicago police officer responding to a suspicious-person call Friday evening found Michael E. Sayles in a South Side alley.

After Sayles, 28, placed a grocery bag he was carrying on the ground, the officer prepared to perform a pat-down.

When the officer asked Sayles if he was carrying anything he shouldn’t be, Sayles said he had a lighter.

“What, are you about to burn something down?” the officer replied in jest, according to the police report.

“Yes, sir,” Sayles said, according to the report. “I have the gas in the bag right there.”

Sayles, of the 9000 block of South Elizabeth Street in Chicago’s Brainerd neighborhood, went on to tell the officer that he was planning to burn down the garage of a lifelong friend who had disrespected him and his family, according to the police report.

Sayles was arrested about 6:45 p.m. in the 1500 block of West 89th Street. The friend whose garage he allegedly targeted lives near the intersection of 69th Street and Ashland Avenue, police said. Sayles planned to take the bus there, according to the arrest report.

That conversation, along with the six gasoline-filled bottles found in Sayles’ grocery bag, led to a charge of unauthorized use of a weapon and attempted residential arson.

Three of the glass bottles were tied together with black electrical tape and a piece of red cloth that would serve as the fuse, prosecutors said. Officers found more red fabric in Sayles’ sweat shirt pocket, along with the lighter he confessed to having, prosecutors said.

Judge Israel Desierto ordered Sayles held on $200,000 bail during a Sunday bond court appearance. Sayles is scheduled to return to court on Friday.

Tribune reporter Rosemary Regina Sobol contributed.

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