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Woman Throws Flaming Cotton Balls at N.C. Officers

BREVARD, N.C. --

What started with a call about a man's odd behavior, led to a scuffle with Brevard police and a fire at an apartment complex, according to authorities.

Just after 5 p.m. on Saturday, Brevard police responded to complaints about a 32-year-old male resident at Mountain Glen Apartments.

"Neighbors said he was saying non-sensical things and acting strangely," Chief Phil Harris told WYFF.

Police who responded to the initial call learned that there was an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for the man. They went to the apartment where the man lives with his 55-year-old aunt. Harris said when the aunt opened the door, the officers could see the man they were looking for inside.

"The lieutenant said, 'I need to talk to you,' but he refused to come out,'" Harris said.

The chief said the aunt tried to block the officer from entering the apartment, but he gently pushed her aside and continued inside. That led to a struggle between the man and the officers, he said.

As the officers attempted to bring the man under control with handcuffs, Harris said a 25-year-old woman came in. Harris said the woman then retreated to a bedroom and came out a few seconds later with some type of liquid.

"She threw it on the officers. The officers had no clue what the liquid was," Harris said.

Harris said the woman then took out a lighter, lit a cotton ball and threw it toward the officers, who were still on the floor trying to handcuff the man. The flaming cotton ball fell short of the officers, but ignited the apparently flammable liquid that had landed on the carpet.

"One of the officers said the flame was burning toward them," Harris said. "He had enough time to stand up and back away. It was like a scene from a movie."

In the process of avoiding the fire, Harris said the officers lost control of the man, who then ran into the bedroom with the woman.

Harris said the officers then used their feet and a fire extinguisher to put out the flames. Harris said the officers then saw smoke coming from the bedroom. They ran outside, broke out the bedroom window and pulled the man and woman out of the burning room, Harris said.

"They didn't stand there and quietly get handcuffed," Harris said. "The male ran and another officer tackled and handcuffed him. The female continued to fight until she was subdued and put in a patrol car."

While inside the patrol car, Harris said the woman managed to slip out of the handcuffs and damage equipment in the vehicle.

The man and woman were taken to jail after being examined at the hospital. Harris said the man's aunt was also taken into custody.

25-year-old Natasha Sinclair was charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder, first degree arson and assaulting a government official/employee. She remains in the Transylvania County Detention Center.

Michael Anthony Kitchen was charged with resisting a public officer and assaulting a government official/employee. He was later released on a $6,000 bond.

Charlene Honeycutt was charged with resisting a public officer. She was later granted a custody release.

Harris said four Brevard officers were also taken to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

"I'm extremely proud of how my officers performed in a really challenging situation," Harris told WYFF.

The Hazardous Materials team spent several hours at the site, Harris said. Investigators determined that the liquid involved was some type of oil-based fuel, similar to what is used in a lantern.

Harris said several witnesses at the scene also expressed appreciation for the police.

"They thought the officers acted courageously. They feel safe because of what they witnessed the officers doing," Harris said. "These people attacked ... and tried to kill the officers, and the officers pulled them out of the burning building."

Harris said he was pleased with the support his officers received from other agencies that responded -- including the Brevard Fire Department, Transylvania County Sheriff's Office, the Hazardous Materials team, the North Carolina Highway Patrol and the North Carolina Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Harris said there were no indications that a meth lab was present in the apartment.

Harris said his agency is working with the district attorney's office to determine what the appropriate charges would be in this case. That information could be released as early as Monday, Harris said.

Copyright 2011 by WYFF4.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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