Person in custody for attempted firebombing of Van Elslander home in Grosse Pointe Park

Molotov cocktail didn't ignite inside home on Whittier Road, but shattered window

By Halston Herrera - Digital news editor , Shawn Ley - Reporter

GROSSE POINTE PARK, Mich. - Grosse Pointe Park Police have a 20-year-old man in custody for the attempted firebombing at the home of Gary and Janet Van Elslander.

A Molotov cocktail was thrown through a window of the home just after 3 a.m. Friday.

--Courtesy Van Elslander family

The cocktail shattered a kitchen window and only partially ignited. It was put out safely and no one was hurt.

Gary Van Elslander is president of the Art Van Furniture Corporation, one of the largest furniture store companies in the country, and the son of company founder Art Van Elslander. 

Local 4 cameras were rolling as police combed the property in the dark of the early morning hours, tracking footprints into a grassy lot next door to the home.

Previous story: Van Elslander home in Grosse Pointe Park target of firebomb

It appears the suspect came from the east through a park and hopped a wooden privacy fence to reach the home that sits at the end of Whittier Road.

The only information police have released about the suspect is that he is 20 years old and a Grosse Pointe Park resident.

For people who live and work in the area, the entire incident comes as a shock.

"I had just seen the police that came down here trying to check out what was going," said John Morgan who's worked in the area as a paper carrier for years.

 The home is valued at about $1.7 million, according to property records and is a riverfront property.

Statement from Gary Van Elslander:

"We were home at the time of the incident. Fortunately, no one was hurt and only a window was broken. We are grateful to the Grosse Pointe Park Police department for their quick action and assistance."

The case will be turned over to the Wayne County Prosecutor's office for charging.

Police told Local 4 that they don't believe the Van Elslanders were targeted in this firebombing. Sources said this appeared to be a random act more than anything and the suspect in custody has some mental health issues.

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