Arson suspect killed by police suffered from depression, sister says

The man shot and killed by Torrance police after he allegedly set two fires -- including at an apartment with his 2-year-old son inside -- was suffering from depression, his sister said.

Asa James Dolak, 19, was fatally shot about 1:35 p.m. Thursday after he was found with a knife on the campus of Madrona Middle School, Torrance Police Sgt. Robert Watt said.

Police said Dolak had had made it clear in telephone conversations with them that he did not intend to be taken into custody without a fight.

“He threatened his family and threatened to kill police if confronted,” Watt said. “We took that threat very serious.”

Earlier Thursday morning, Dolak had set fire to an apartment in the 16700 block of Crenshaw Boulevard, where his ex-girlfriend lives with the couple's toddler son. Fire crews and police officers rescued the child, Watt said.

The boy was treated for smoke inhalation and was in fair condition at a hospital, Watt said. The mother was not injured.

Watt said the arson attack was the result of "a domestic dispute that started verbally on Christmas Day." About 2 a.m. Thursday, Dolak went to his mother's home in the 3200 block of Opal Street and set that property on fire as well.

The suspect's sister, Elizabeth Dolak, told KNBC-TV that her brother had been depressed.

"It seemed like everybody turned their back on him," she said. "I did it, too. I just gave up trying to help him. But I never wanted to see him dead, shot seven times."

"If you have a family member that’s going through something, please don’t alienate them even if they’ve hurt you." 


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