A man was charged with arson after witnesses said he sprayed gasoline in the parking lot of a Whitney Point store and threatened to ignite it.

MATTHEW ALTIF (Photo: New York State Police)

Authorities say 31-year-old Matthew Altif punched a state trooper in the face following the bizarre incident at the Express Mart convenience store on Route 11.

Police were called to the business around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

An employee shut off the gasoline pumps after the man sprayed fuel outside the store, which is across the street from Whitney Point High School.

Altif was taken into custody with assistance from other troopers and a school resource officer.

Police say as Altif was being transported on Interstate 81, he became violent while handcuffed in the state police vehicle, kicking the trooper in the head. The trooper pulled over and was assisted by other troopers and Broome County sheriff's deputies in restraining Altif.

In addition to the arson count, Altif was charged with escape, assault, criminal mischief and resisting arrest. The Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, man also was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Altif was arraigned and sent to Broome County Jail on $5,000 bail.

Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: bob@wnbf.com

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