Gretna man arrested after arson-machete tirade, escape attempt

Mazen Hamdan clutching a machete. Source: State Fire Marshal's Office
Mazen Hamdan clutching a machete. Source: State Fire Marshal's Office
Updated: Jun. 7, 2018 at 8:27 AM CDT
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Mazen Hamdan. Source: State Fire Marshal's Office
Mazen Hamdan. Source: State Fire Marshal's Office

A Gretna man was booked into the Orleans Parish Prison late Wednesday after an attempt to set his brother's property on fire, creating a disturbance with a machete, and attempting to escape police custody.

According to the Louisiana State Fire Marshal's office, Mazen Hamdan faces one count each of simple criminal damage and simple escape, filed by the New Orleans Police Department. One count of simple arson was filed by the Louisiana State Fire Marshal's Office Thursday.

Around 11:45 a.m. on the 6th, the New Orleans Fire Department contacted the OSFM to assist with the investigation of an altercation involving a fire in the 2500 block of Jonquil Street.

The owner of the property told OSFM investigators that he was doing renovation work on the home when his brother, Hamdan, showed up demanding money.

According to the report, an altercation ensued between the two, and the victim said Hamdan threatened to burn the house down.

The victim told investigators Hamdan then retrieved a gas can from his truck and started pouring the contents on the floor while continuing to argue about the debt.

The victim told investigators he was able to knock a lighter out of his brother's hands as he tried to start a flame.

Hamdan then fled the scene.

The victim told police that his brother showed up at several other properties he owns creating disturbances at each, including one instance in which he armed himself with a machete.

Deputies confirmed the home was under renovation and unoccupied at the time. Pour patterns were discovered on an area of flooring and the scent of gasoline was noted. Investigators classified the case as incendiary, according to the state fire marshal.

Shortly after, Hamdan was taken into custody by NOPD through a traffic stop.

During that stop, Hamdan reported suffering from medical distress and requested to be taken to an area hospital, according to the report.

When an ambulance arrived, Hamdan attempted to flee officers. He was taken to the hospital for evaluation then transferred to jail. Hamdan's criminal history includes a federal conviction for Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, as well as state convictions for drug possession and being a felon in possession of a firearm, the latter of which he served time for at Angola State Penitentiary.

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