NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Manhattan financier upset with his wife tried to blow up his multi-million dollar brownstone in an apparent suicide attempt on the Upper West Side, according to authorities.
Police said 52-year-old Charles Welsh cut a gas line to his nearly $5 million home at 143 West 94th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues just after 10:30 p.m. Thursday, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.
“There was a flex pipe, a gas pipe, going into the apartment. He cut that, at one point gas started coming into the apartment at which point he was planning on sitting there and expiring,” said Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. “This was a suicide attempt by this male. He clearly admits to that later on at the hospital.”
Once he cut the gas line, Welsh panicked.
“Gas filled the room and he ran out,” Boyce said.
There was a small explosion and fire that was brought under control in an hour. The blast damaged the basement and knocked out an entire back wall of one floor of the home.
Neighbors saw Welsh outside in his pajamas right after the explosion.
“I said, ‘Charles are you OK? We gotta call 911.’ I think all he said was, ‘Yeah we have to,'” neighbor Fred Valle told CBS2. “And then he came downstairs but he didn’t say a word. He just stood there by the main entrance until the police came.”
Valle told CBS2 Welsh’s French wife left for France with their four kids on Thursday. The night before that the family had a Christmas party.
“Quiet, very quiet. You could hardly tell they were out there,” Valle said.
Welsh suffered minor burns to his legs and was treated at St. Luke’s Hospital.
No other injuries were reported, but neighbors say they are lucky to be alive.
“Poor thing but that’s kind of selfish right? He could have taken us all away too,” said neighbor Juan Sanguinetti.
Neighbor Chris Brown is caring for Welsh’s dog, which he handed over before being taken away by police. Earlier in the day, authorities recovered the family’s cat.
“Very saddened to hear this. I had no idea, I thought it was accidental,” another neighbor said.
As Rozner reported, the situation is eerily similar to a July 2006 incident on the Upper East Side, where a townhouse owner killed himself and demolished the home while going through a bitter divorce.
At the Welsh home, a vacate order prevents anyone from going inside, as Con Edison crews work to repair the gas line.
Police describe Welsh as emotionally disturbed and is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation. He faces charges of assault, reckless endangerment and arson.
According to Linkedin, Welsh ran a financial company called Inside International Industrials.