OBSERVER Photo by Daniel Riewaldt
The Westfield police and fire departments responded to 5 Bank St. in the village of Westfield around 5:50 p.m. Monday for a report of two motor vehicles that were on fire. Upon arrival, it was determined the fires were allegedly intentionally started by Thomas M. Pereira, 33, of Cass Street, Westfield. Pereira barricaded himself in the basement of the residence, claiming he had a gun. The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department also arrived to assist, along with the County SWAT Team. Police spoke with Pereira for over an hour in an attempt to get him to come out of the residence. During this time, the taser was deployed and Pereira was taken into custody. Further investigation revealed Pereira was involved in a domestic dispute with a female who lived at the residence and he allegedly poured gasoline on a female victim while in the house, starting the victim and house on fire. The victim was reportedly Pereira's aunt. During this time, neighbors attempted to assist the female victim. At this time, Pereira had a can of gasoline, started this can on fire and threw it at a neighbor, who was assisting the victim and attempting to put out the fire. The female victim was transported to Westfield Memorial Hospital for minor injuries. The County Fire Investigation Team was called to the scene to assist. Pereira was charged with several felonies: two counts of first-degree burglary, two counts of third-degree arson, one count of second-degree arson, two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment and one count of third-degree assault. Pereira was arraigned in Westfield Village Court and committed to the County Jail on no bail. The Portland, Mayville and Sherman fire departments assisted at the scene. Firefighters were on scene for around two hours.