Rescues in Trenton, NJ
TRENTON — A man suffering an apparent mental crisis set a West Ward home on fire Thursday night with his girlfriend and her two children inside, then cut her teenage son with a knife, grabbed her 7-year-old girl and went onto a third-floor roof, authorities said.
Eric Carter, 42, let the girl go and inexplicably went back inside the burning house on the 600 block of Edgewood Avenue, fire officials said. Carter, who had already suffered burns, fell unconscious due to smoke inhalation, Battalion Chief Frank Fanning said.
Firefighters came in the house to rescue him. But as he regained consciousness while being taken down to the first floor, Carter allegedly fought the firefighters, putting up a struggle until he could be dragged outside and arrested by police officers.
“He was cuffed by police before they put him on the gurney,” Fanning said.
The 7-year-old girl suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to St. Christopher’s Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. The 17-year-old boy needed surgery for a laceration to his face, but their mother was unharmed.
Carter spread accelerant and set fires on the first floor of the home while the children were upstairs with their mother, Trenton Police Lt. Mark Kieffer said yesterday. Once the children were trapped upstairs, Carter went there with a knife and slashed the 17-year-old in the face. He then grabbed the girl and headed for the roof, Kieffer said.
Engine 8 was first called to the Edgewood Avenue home around 10:45 p.m. on a report that a man was spreading potentially flammable liquid inside his home and threatening to kill himself. By the time the firefighters arrived, the home was ablaze and smoke was pouring from the windows of the house.
The 17-year-old was able to escape and jumped from the third floor to the second floor porch roof, then was helped down by firefighters on a ladder, Fanning said. Those firefighters were able to get the 7-year-old off the roof once Carter went back inside.
Patricia Alvarez and Joseph Mikos, neighbors who saw the commotion, helped and bandaged the badly bleeding teen. Alvarez grabbed the first thing she could find — her daughter’s scarf — and began to wrap it around the young man’s cut face.
“He was bleeding out,” Mikos said.
Saying, “Just relax, brother,” Mikos stopped the bleeding before helping Trenton EMS move the boy to an ambulance.
Carter suffered smoke inhalation and burns but information on his condition was not available last night. No firefighters or police were hurt in the blaze.
The fire came on a busy night in the city, which saw another blaze on Federal Street that was being investigated as an arson, and a serious shooting on Highland Avenue.
At one point, every firefighter in the city was being used at a blaze, and aid from nearby towns was requested to man city firehouses.
Carter was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
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