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Police: Boyfriend threatened to burn apartment down after argument

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The fire scene (Source: Chelsea Washington) The fire scene (Source: Chelsea Washington)
Timothy Dingle (Source: Sumter-Lee Detention Center) Timothy Dingle (Source: Sumter-Lee Detention Center)

SUMTER, SC (WIS) - The live-in boyfriend of the mother of two young children who were sent to the hospital after firefighters had to pull them from their burning apartment building overnight has been charged with two counts of attempted murder and arson.

Police say Timothy Dingle, 52, was arrested and charged Wednesday afternoon in connection with the early-morning fire at the Lantana Apartments on Carolina Avenue. Deputy Chief Alvin Holston said Dingle is the live-in boyfriend of the children's mother. 

The two children, identified by neighbors as 9-year-old Robert and 10-year-old Alayiah, were rescued. Robert was sent to the Augusta Burn Center where he remains in critical condition and Alayiah was sent to Palmetto Health Richland. Her condition is not currently known.

Investigators believe Dingle and the woman had an argument before the fire and she walked out of the apartment. Witnesses have told investigators Dingle threatened to burn the place down if she didn't return.

About 20 minutes later, according to officials, Dingle started the fire in the upstairs hallway right next to the children's bunkbed.

Witnesses saw Robert wiping his eyes due to the smoke.

"He was at the window saying, 'My house is burning!' Everyone was telling him to jump out. He said, 'I'm not going to leave my sister!" neighbor Eva Hodge said.

Sumter Fire Department Captain Brian Horton said when firefighters arrived at the complex, they saw heavy flames coming from the second story bedroom.

Neighbors like Hodge are still coming to grips with the whole incident.

"I'm having a hard time just getting myself back together because, to see something like that, that it could have been one of my grands or one of my children, it's sad," Moore said.

Dingle was being held at the Sumter-Lee Detention Center awaiting a bond hearing. This is his 36th arrest. The 52-year-old's rap sheet includes everything from burglary to assault.  Neighbors don't know much about him except he's the mother's boyfriend and lived at the apartment for a few months.

The Sumter Police Department is continuing to investigate and so is the Department of Social Services.

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