Burke County man accused of trying to set house on fire with children locked inside

Burke County man accused of trying to set house on fire with children locked inside

MORGANTON, NC (WBTV) - A Burke County man is accused of trying to set a home on fire with several children locked inside, deputies say.

According to the Burke County Sheriff's Office, 37-year-old Floyd Elmer Tate IV allegedly poured gasoline on a mobile home on Pritchard Drive in Morganton around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. He also reportedly locked himself and five kids inside the home and tried to set the home on fire.

When deputies arrived, the home was not on fire and the suspect was outside Tate extinguished the fire before it caused a lot of damage, deputies say.

Deputies were able to remove the five children, ages 5-12, from the mobile home, officials say.

Neighbors say they have heard the couple arguing many times on the past but still say they are shocked by what Tate is accused of doing.

"I never thought he was that type of person " said Makayla Johnson.

Tina Clendenin says Tate was always pleasant to her. "He's a real nice person." Tina says the Tate and his wife were arguing yesterday over where to take the kids for some  Fourth of July activities.

That's when the arson situation happened. "I guess he just snapped," said Tina.

Sheriff Steve Whisenant says he worries about the kids involved. "They were traumatized."

Whisenant says it's not the first situation the kids have faced.

A lot of arguing has gone on in that household over the past few months, he says, and last year a man was shot and killed by a deputy just feet outside a window from where the kids live.

He is hoping they can get some counseling. Meanwhile, he said, the investigation is ongoing.

Tate was arrested and charged with arson, communicating threats and child abuse. He was taken to the Burke-Catawba District Confinement Facility and given a $100,000 bond.

He will have his first court appearance on Thursday.

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