Couple escapes through window after machete-armed neighbor breaks into home, starts fire

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — Deputies said they have arrested a man accused of breaking into his neighbors' house armed with a machete and starting a fire early Sunday morning in Catawba County.

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The incident happened around 6:30 a.m. at a home on Rock Barn Road in Claremont.

The homeowners said they barricaded themselves into a bedroom and called police after their neighbor, 38-year-old Eric Deal, broke into their home through a rear window with a machete.

Channel 9 obtained the 911, which lasted 50 minutes and the wife could be heard whispering into the phone, pleading for help.

"He is threatening to kill us. He said that we're aiding the government and trying to kill him. He's saying if we show him, it would be better for him," the caller said.

While on 911, the couple told the dispatcher they could hear the suspect screaming, beating on their walls, going through their kitchen drawers, and could smell smoke.

Deputies said while inside, Deal started a fire in the kitchen, causing thousands of dollars in damage.

In the 911 call, the dispatcher is heard telling the couple it is time to  get out of the home.

"You need to get out of that window. Try to get that screen off and open that window and try to get out OK," the dispatcher said.

The homeowners managed to escape the burning home through a window.

According to officials, they could see smoke coming from one of the windows when they arrived at the scene.

Channel 9 learned a magistrate in Catawba County issued an involuntary commitment order against the suspect Saturday.

Deal has been charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, first-degree arson and two counts of first-degree kidnapping.

No additional information has been released.

This is an ongoing investigation. Check back with wsoctv.com for updates. 

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