An 11-year-old South Carolina boy is accused of intentionally setting his home on fire with his family inside and then attempting to flee, the Myrtle Beach Sun News reports.
Police are investigating why the child started the fire, which occurred at a home on July 5 in Socastee, South Carolina, near Myrtle Beach.
The home filled with smoke as family members worked to get everyone out of the house, according to an identified victim. Inside at the time: a 45-year-old woman, 46-year-old man, 18-year-old woman and girls ages 7 and 4.
An unidentified woman told authorities that she removed the suspect from the house and was able to extinguish the fire, television station WPDE-TV reports.
Records show the fire started in the suspect’s bedroom, where authorities saw material that had burned.
One victim reported that the suspect attempted to make the incident look like an electrical fire.
Amid the chaos, the suspect allegedly took food from the family’s refrigerator and attempted to escape the house by jumping out a window, but others in the home stopped him.
The suspect was transported to an undisclosed location following the incident.
Authorities released a heavily redacted a police report about the fire, obtained by Myrtle Beach News, which included interviews that officers conducted with the suspect and victims.
Experts advise that when a child sets a fire intentionally, it can be a warning sign that needs to be taken seriously. Setting objects on fire may indicate that the child is seeking attention, angry or dealing with stress, according to the website KidsHealth. In some cases it may also indicate that the child is being abused or neglected.
Authorities have not disclosed why the 11-year-old suspect in this case started the fire or whether the child’s intent has been ascertained yet.