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Swannanoa Fire Death Investigation

News 13 has obtained reports from the 911 calls made to the Buncombe County Sheriff's department Friday night after the house at 124 College circle in Swannanoa near Warren Wilson College went up in flames.  The girlfriend of 57-year-old Thomas Roberts called dispatch saying that she feared her boyfriend.  Roberts, she said, was having an episode.

Neighbor Walt Claxton, knew the couple.

"They were always very congenial and very nice," said Claxton.

His girlfriend who got out of the house safely, told the dispatcher there were guns in a suitcase in Robert's bedroom.

On the 911 call reports, Roberts' girlfriend said she was afraid to come back to the house, and that her boyfriend yanked the phone out of the wall.

"I understood he may have been on medication, he was on disability I believe," said Walt Claxton. "This time of year anyone that's got any kind of problem, whatsoever, it just makes it more tough."

Claxton said he knew Roberts was under stress, after a job injury two years ago working for Progress Energy.  Roberts, he said, had had hand surgery he never fully recovered from. Whatever the frustration,  Roberts emotions escalated into a violent stand-off with Sheriff's deputies Friday night. 

Deputies told Roberts over a megaphone to come out and he wouldn't be injured. Neighbors then heard gunshots.  The Sheriff's Department said deputies didn't fire back. Details of what may have caused the fire that began after the gunshots haven't been released.  

According to the Buncombe County Sheriff's department Roberts had a DWI charge in 1993 but no other criminal charges.

by Kimberly King
Follow Kim on Twitter @KimKingReports


 



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