Man gets 6 years for setting Red Line train on fire

A North Side man who threw paint thinner on a Red Line passenger, then set himself and the train car on fire in 2018, has been sentenced to six years in prison.

David Ferguson, 30, pleaded guilty to aggravated arson in a deal with prosecutors that required the state to drop seven other felony charges.

Just after 5:15 p.m., on January 19, 2018, police received calls from passengers who reported that Ferguson had “gasoline and bottles” onboard their southbound Red Line train near Berwyn. One passenger said Ferguson splashed her with a chemical that he carried in a water bottle. Ferguson then pulled out a lighter and threatened to set himself on fire.

As police moved in to arrest Ferguson on the train car at Argyle, he ignited a flame, and fire began spreading through the “L” car. Investigators later determined the flammable liquid that Ferguson ignited was paint thinner.

Ferguson suffered third-degree burns in the fire. CPD said a police officer received a leg injury that was “not fire-related.” A CTA train operator suffered smoke inhalation when he tried to extinguish the flames.

Judge Catherine Haberkorn oversaw the case.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is