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Arson suspect said he was armed, suicidal

Man’s bail increased to $100,000
Medford Fire Department photo Medford Fire Department personnel are shown Tuesday night at a fire at an apartment building in the 700 block of Royal Avenue. Robert Jameson O’Neill, 46, was arrested for arson.

A Medford man arrested on suspicion of intentionally setting fires inside his residence at an apartment building in the 700 block of Royal Avenue told police Tuesday evening he was armed with a gun and trying to kill himself.

Robert Jameson O’Neill, 46, is being charged with first-degree arson and first-degree criminal mischief.

No one was injured, and he surrendered to police without incident.

A probable cause affidavit filed with Jackson County Circuit Court explained that officers were able to coax O’Neill down from his apartment balcony using a ladder after an officer initially saw him at his front door, where smoke was “seeping out.”

There appeared to have been two fires set in the apartment, according to the affidavit.

Police medically cleared him to be taken from the scene to Jackson County Jail. During the ride to the hospital, O’Neill told police he had taken 15 prescription pills because he wanted to kill himself, the affidavit stated.

O’Neill is being held on $100,000 bail. Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Ravassipour raised the bail amount from the original $30,000 amount assigned by the Sheriff’s Office.

The blaze required what Medford Fire Department described Wednesday as a full structure response that included multiple engines, other equipment and supervisory personnel as well as the fire marshal.

Officers and fire personnel worked together closely at the scene to ensure the safety of residents and first responders, said Medford police Sgt. Mark Cromwell.

The Medford Fire Department continues its own investigation of the blaze, which was mostly contained to the one unit that had been occupied by O’Neill.

Some fire personnel needed to work through the ceiling of the apartment directly below to keep the blaze from spreading.

Residents in other nearby units were evacuated during the firefighting effort but were able to return once firefighters completed their work, said Medford Fire Marshal Chase Browning.