Austin man escaped psychiatric ward, set house fire, police say

  • Anusha Lalani
Updated Dec 02, 2017
Austin police vehicles. (TAMIR KALIFA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

A man is being charged with arson after he escaped a mental health facility and set his family’s home on fire, according to an arrest affidavit.

On Thursday evening the Austin Fire Department responded to a call about a fire at a home near the 5000 block of Sunset Trail. Firefighters put out the fire, which was contained to a bedroom, and determined it was intentionally set, the affidavit says.

Edward Avalos, 28, was at the home when police arrived, and told them he had escaped from the Next Step mental health facility, where he had stayed for about three weeks, the affidavit says. Avalos told police he got angry at his mother because she was upset when he arrived at the house, and at his brother, who was staying in his room, the document says.

Avalos set his brother’s bed on fire and broke things in the house before the fire crew arrived, the affidavit says.

Police said they heard crashing sounds coming from inside the home when they arrived and found Avalos inside the home with a shovel, according to the affidavit.

It is still unclear how Avalos left the mental health facility, which did not respond to a request for comment from the Statesman on Saturday.

Avalos is currently at Travis County jail with a bond set to $30,000 as of Saturday.