Ascension resident burns house, commits suicide

Staff Report

A 47-year old Ascension Parish resident set fire to the house where he was living Tuesday morning, then took his own life while still on the scene of the blaze.

Authorities identified the man as Michael Fielder of 17588 N. Summerfield Road in Galvez.

No one else was injured or involved in the fire or shooting.

Fielder was living in the home and was faced with having to move out because the house was being sold, said Lt. Col. Paul Robert of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office.

St. Amant, Galvez-Lake and 7th District Volunteer Fire Departments were dispatched to the residence at 7:35 a.m., according to St. Amant Fire Chief James LeBlanc.

The blaze was brought under control less than an hour later, but firefighters worked the scene until early in the afternoon between 1:30 and 2 p.m.

The first reports from the 911 dispatch center was a fully involved working structure fire with gun shots going off at the scene, LeBlanc said.

When the first fire units arrived on scene, they reported the home fully involved. The two adjacent houses were also catching fire and Fielder lay dead from a shotgun wound to the head in the front yard of the burning house.

The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office were dispatched to the scene to assist in the crime investigation while Ascension Volunteer Fire Departments battled the blaze of the three houses.

Sources with Ascension Parish Fire District No.1 stated that the blaze was sparked by an incendiary device, and was intentionally set by Fielder.

There was an apparent family disagreement over the past two years involving the home and property after the deaths of the original owners, according to authorities.

Investigators said they believe this is what triggered Fielder to set the fire then take his life.

Fielder had been arrested on two occasions involving incidents with his neighbors. He was charged in September 2005 and July 2006 for disturbing the peace and simple battery, Robert said.

Fielder’s neighbors kept a surveillance camera on his house, according to one source.

Fielder was also recently cited by police for littering the yard of his sister Mary Fielder on Robin Trail Road off Lake Martin Road in St. Amant, according to Robert.

Authorities found a traffic ticket in Fielder’s mailbox which he had received the morning of the fire. There were obscenities scribbled on the ticket, and reference was made to the fact that he already had bills that he could not pay, Robert said.

A total of 24 volunteer Firefighters with 10 fire firetrucks, and Acadian Ambulance responded to the call.

LeBlanc said the response of firefighters on the scene was exemplary, especially in light of all the dramatic events unfolding around them.