WARREN - Letter carrier David Hughes says he has no doubt that the man who threw gasoline at him on Tuesday intended to set him on fire.
Hughes told police that Sidney ''Talib'' Jordan, 55, 295 W. Market St., had threatened to "douse" him the day before after accusing him of withholding his mail.
"On Monday, he said he was going to douse me, so I assumed that's what he meant, that he was going to douse me with gas," he said.
"On Tuesday, he was serious. When I saw him carrying the five-gallon pail and the matches, I knew what he was planning to do,'' Hughes, 48, of Youngstown, said Wednesday.
Witnesses said they could smell the gasoline across the street.
"I heard the guy arguing with the mailman," Freddie Washington, 34, of York Avenue said. "The mailman was going back to his truck, and the guy cut him off. He had this bucket and matches and he was going toward him. He tried throwing the gas on the him.
''The mailman ran behind me and some other guys and asked us to call the police, so we did. You could smell it. It was dripping everywhere," Washington said.
"I think I got out of the way just in time," Hughes said. "When police went up to his house, they said they could smell a strong odor of gas. He wanted to set me on fire right there on the street."
Jordan remained at the Trumbull County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond after being arraigned in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday. He is facing a second-degree felonious assault charge.
Jordan previously was sentenced to serve four to 25 years in prison on a 1981 rape conviction. After his release, he had several several brushes with local law enforcement and eventually was sentenced to two years in prison for failing to register his address with the Trumbull County Sheriff's Office, a requirement for anyone determined by the courts to be a sexual predator.
Hughes said that Jordan had repeatedly accused him and the U.S. Postal Service of keeping his mail from him and blamed the government for not sending it.
"He told me I'd better bring this mail that he had been expecting. He's said that in the past. He was always rambling something at me, saying stuff. I just tried to ignore him and continue with what I was doing," Hughes said.
About 2 p.m. Tuesday, Hughes was walking on his route on Hamilton Street S.W. when Jordan, using "profane language," poured gasoline on him, according to a Warren police reports.
David Van Allen, spokesman at the USPS Cleveland office, said he could not comment on Hughes' case specifically, but pointed out that letter carriers are federal employees.
"Generally speaking, if a person makes threats or commits an act of bodily harm against a letter carrier they could face federal charges," he said.
Van Allen said crimes against letter carriers are uncommon.
"When you consider there are 200,000-plus letter carrier on the streets six days a week, it's very rare to have something like this. I actually am not aware of anything like this in recent years in Ohio. Most people appreciate the people who bring their mail to them."
Additionally, if a letter carrier feels threatened in any way, delivery could be curtailed until the matter is resolved, Van Allen said.
Hughes, who has been delivering mail seven years, said he is "OK" and that he wasn't hurt. However, he said he is taking a few days off work to clear his head. He's also hoping to transfer to another route. A few years ago, while delivering mail in the same area, the windows of his mail truck were shot out.
"You wouldn't think being a mail carrier would be this hazardous," Hughes said. "There are a lot of carriers in Warren, all over the place and this stuff just doesn't happen. It's just my luck I've gotten hit twice."
If Jordan had specifically threatened on Monday to set him on fire, he would have contacted police immediately, he said.