Deputies: Arrest made after Burke County tavern parking lot shooting, building fire

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. — An arrest has been made after a tavern caught fire the night after someone fired shots there, Burke County deputies said.

Thomas Jeffery Edmisten was arrested for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Investigators in Burke County are still trying to figure out how the fire began.

The owner of Styles Tavern believes the fire was set after there was gunfire in the parking lot late on May 4. Deputies said they were called that night for shots fired, but the person who caused it left before officers arrived.

Investigators told Channel 9′s Dave Faherty they have a lot of questions about the origins of the fire. When firefighters got there, they said flames were already coming out both the windows and the roof of the tavern.

Fire investigators said they got the call shortly after 5 a.m. on May 5 along Highway 18 north of Morganton.

A neighbor shared a video with Faherty of the flames coming from the business.

Three different fire departments worked to put out the fire, including Chesterfield Fire which is just down the road from the tavern.

Owner Kevin Motz said he opened Styles Tavern in part to honor his father. He said the bar was popular among bikers in the area.

“Pretty much speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to think,” he said. “My dad was a big people person. I’m a big people person and it’s just gone now.”

Motz said a customer was asked to leave the night of May 4 but then returned minutes later and fired more than 10 rounds in the parking lot.

At this point, deputies can’t say if the shooting is connected to the fire.

Witnesses said the fire started where the bar has all of its surveillance equipment, and that video was destroyed.

The assistant fire marshal told Faherty he plans on pulling in some additional outside resources to help with the investigation.

Motz said he hopes authorities find out what happened and said he plans on rebuilding.

Edmisten was arrested on May 8 by U.S. Marshals in Catawba County. He was given a $500,000 bond.

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