A man who police said drove up the steps of the Indiana War Memorial draped in an American flag and carrying a gun told RTV6 he was trying to spread the message of Jesus Christ.
Daniel Whitaker, 49, admitted to pouring gasoline down the steps of the memorial and lighting it on fire Nov. 22, leading to a tense standoff with police.
Whitaker eventually surrendered and has since been held in the detention unit of Wishard Memorial Hospital undergoing psychiatric evaluation.
He called RTV6 to say he wanted to tell his side of the story.
"What I was trying to do with whatever I had was to try to get everybody to stop and think of Christ and his ways and to be nice to each other and love each other," Whitaker told RTV6.
Whitaker, brandishing a large book and a blue pole, pulled a handgun from his waistband at one point during the standoff, police said, prompting officers to hold him at gunpoint.
"I said, 'If you come and join us in Christ, I'll lay my weapon on the ground,'" Whitaker said. "Three of them were brave enough to come up, and I put my weapon on the ground, and they gave me a hug."
Whitaker mooned police before he threw his gun down the memorial steps and was taken into custody, about an hour after the incident began.
Police credited State Capitol Police Sgt. Russell Growe with establishing a bond with Whitaker.
"He worked on that bond to establish a rapport, and what happened was that this was a very potentially lethal situation. I mean, you had gasoline, you had matches, you had a weapon," War Memorial Director Brig. Gen. J. Stewart Goodwin said shortly after the arrest. "You had a person that was not real stable."
Whitaker has been charged with arson and criminal recklessness. He will appear in court next month.
He told RTV6 that he had no intention of damaging the War Memorial, saying his father was military veteran. The fire caused minimal damage to the memorial.
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