Woman in jail after police say she lit broom on fire and threw it at them

by: Tony Thomas Updated:

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A 67-year-old woman is in jail after Lilburn police say she came at them with a homemade torch.

Channel 2's Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Tony Thomas obtained police bodycam video of the incident and neighbors' cellphone video that shows the woman opening the front door of her home and tossing the flaming broom at officers.

Lilburn police spent nearly five hours Thursday trying to talk Irene Handy out of her Old Manor Road home. Video shows her at times walking on a roof and at other times yelling from inside the house.

You can hear one officer yell,"Fire, fire, fire!" on the video just before the flames come out the door.

Neighbor Jason Shepherd stood across the street recording video of the incident on his cellphone.

"I'm very thankful nobody got hurt and the house is still standing," Shepherd said.

Police said they came to the house Thursday after Handy had placed a large banner on the house complaining about law enforcement officers and several Gwinnett County judges.

"You have been harassing me for 10 years," Handy yelled from her rooftop.

Lilburn police are very familiar with the woman.


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"I'd been dealing with Ms. Handy for a decade," said Police Chief Bruce Hedley.

Police said Handy has mental issues, and after she called the courthouse Thursday and allegedly made a direct threat against a judge, warrants were issued for her arrest. When police went to serve the warrants, they said she doused a broom with kerosene and threw it out the door. Police said a pool of kerosene covered the floor inside.

"It looked like a flamethrower coming out of that front door," Bruce said.

"Thankfully, it didn't go inside the house and ignite the house and everyone that was standing there," Capt.Thom Bardugon said.

Even in handcuffs, Handy was giving officers a piece of her mind.

A bodycam recording showed her asking, "Why are you arresting me?"

An officer replied, "For aggravated assault on a police officer."

"Oh really?" Handy said. "Well, you had no right to be harassing me at my front door."

Shepherd had only praise for the police.

"The police officers did an excellent job in the way they handled her," he said.

Handy is being held at the Gwinnett County Jail, charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, terroristic threats and obstruction.

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