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Family Says Father Had Mental Breakdown When He Lit Home on Fire

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BERWICK-- A man accused of lighting his home on fire, shooting at police, and resisting arrest appeared in court Monday for his preliminary hearing.

Barry Francioni's family said he was having a mental breakdown roughly two weeks ago. His wife, Cindy Francioni, said this was completely out of character for the loving husband she knew.

"I could tell by his face. I have been with him for 32 years, and that wasn't him that day. That was just somebody else," Cindy Francioni said.

Family members said Francioni had always been a hardworking, stoic father.

His son, Christian Francioni, said he saw his father crack under pressure for the first time two weeks ago.

"He is a great guy. No one saw this coming at all, nobody. The man upstairs didn't see this coming," Christian Francioni said.

In court, Francioni waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Monday and now faces one new charge, discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure.

The affidavit of probable cause shows Francioni shot into an apartment on 1010 Monroe Street. Court papers indicate the bullet came through the wall, struck the tenant's bed, and was found in the living room of the apartment. No one was injured.

His family is not allowed to live in their home on LaSalle Street, but they are allowed to clean up parts of the property. His wife and son are still in shock.

Christian Francioni said his father was the type of person to invite anyone over for Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner.

"He would do anything for anybody. He don't know you. He'd fix your house up for free just to help you out. He'd do it all," Christian Francioni said.

Weeks ago, Francioni said in court he was trying to kill himself that day, not shoot at officers.

His family said Francioni was treated for mental illness in the past.  His wife Cindy said Francioni was not on any medication the day he "broke down."

"I tried to get him help. I mean he is sorry. You can see just by looking at him. It wasn't him that day," Cindy Francioni said.

Francioni remains in the Columbia County jail. He is scheduled to appear in county court for a formal arraignment in September.

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