Merced man arrested, admits to setting his apartment on fire

ATWATER, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Merced County man is in custody after police say he set fire to his own apartment.

It happened in Atwater early Wednesday morning.

Shattered glass and a few burned items sit outside the building where Atwater police arrested the suspect.

37-year-old David Tanner allegedly set fire to his own apartment while yelling that people were trying to kill him.

"It is kinda scary. We don't know if they might shoot, or somebody might come after them," said Yvette August who lives in the area.

Police arrived at a building along the 700 block of Broadway Avenue early Wednesday morning, and claim they heard a man and woman yelling from inside one of the rooms.

Moments later, they say Tanner ran out yelling quote "they're trying to kill me."

When police went inside to investigate, they saw the stairwell inside engulfed in fire.

Neighbors say that's when they heard what was happening.

"I looked up and saw smoke, then I started seeing flames. Then they evacuate everybody from that side," said August.

However, police say while Tanner was outside his story changed, and then he started claiming that the officers were trying to kill him.

"He became physically aggressive. Grabbed his wife and used her as a shield," said Atwater Police Chief Drew Bessinger.

They were forced to taze Tanner and say he confessed to the fire.

"He made a statement on scene that he would come back and burn the house again," said Chief Bessinger.

Authorities say he was a parolee and deputies with the Merced County Sheriff's Office confirm Tanner was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon in 2013.

We did speak to one of Tanner's family members.

They asked to stay anonymous but told us Tanner has been having quote "mental issues."

They go on to say his mother recently died, and he's been trying to reach out to Merced County for help with his problems but hasn't gotten any assistance.

While crews boarded up the apartment, Tanner was booked into the Merced County main jail.

The chief says officers determined that he was having some sort of psychotic break down at the scene, however, he didn't know if officers tested him for drugs and alcohol.

Along with Arson, Tanner is also charged with resisting arrest and violating parole.
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