LEWISTON, NY – The man who held New York State Police at bay for 12 hours on West Lane in the Village of Lewiston is in custody.
State police arrested Leonard A. Zientara, 51, and charged him with arson in the second degree, a class B felony.
The standoff began when troopers responded to a call from the Niagara County Sheriff's Office about a possible assault early Sunday morning. Zientara refused to answer the door or exit his home on West Lane to speak with the troopers when they arrived.
Using a reverse-911 call, troopers called for a voluntary evacuation of residents of the street as they dealt with the situation. They also asked residents of a two-block area on either side of West Lane to stay inside their homes. They called for the voluntary evacuation as a precaution.
Trooper Victor Morales, Troop A public information officer, said State Police Special Operations Response Team (SORT) members also responded to the scene and established a perimeter around the residence.
Zientara eventually climbed out onto his roof as negotiators tried to bring him to safety. Around 5:15 p.m. Zientara started the house on fire through a hole he created in the roof, Morales said. That's when he finally surrendered.
As the flames increased, Zientara went back into the house and turned himself over to SORT members who had entered the house by that time.
Zientara was arraigned in the Town of Lewiston Court and sent to the Niagara County Jail without bail.