Man allegedly starts fire, turns gun on himself
Investigators believe financial problems and a family dispute led a man to set fire to his home and shoot himself in the front yard.
The incident involving Michael Fielder happened on Summerfield Road North in Ascension Parish. Neighbors told News 2 they heard several loud explosions this morning around 7:30 a.m.
Louise Whitman ran outside to find out what happened.
"The house was all up in flames, and I didn't realize at the time that the body was out in front," said Whitman. People in the neighborhood found Fielder dead in his front yard with his shotgun laying on his chest.
Investigators said they know why Fielder may have set the house on fire.
"There was some type of disagreement amongst family members over the last couple of months about what was going to happen to the property," said James Leblanc, St. Amant Fire Chief.
Officials said Fielder left a note for his relatives in the mailbox that said he couldn't afford to pay his bills.
Two neighboring homes were also damaged by the fire, but no one inside was harmed. The fire is still under investigation.