Man charged with trapping people in house, trying to set it on fire

Posted at 4:24 PM, Mar 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-02 19:48:54-05

Daniel Thornton (2009 mugshot provided by the Cass County Sheriff's Department)

HOWARD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- A 39-year-old man is facing felony charges after allegedly trapping two women and five children in a house before attempting to set it on fire.

Police say Daniel Eugene Thornton nailed a bedroom shut with his girlfriend, another woman and the children trapped inside and then tried to start several fires outside the home.

An alert neighbor spotted a fire on the home's porch and called authorities.  When the Howard Township Fire Department arrived at the Huntly Road home, Thornton allegedly told them to leave.

During that confrontation with the fire department the women and children escaped from the house, the Cass County Sheriff's department said.

Thornton was charged Wednesday with second and third-degree arson, unlawful imprisonment, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, assault by strangulation and aggravated domestic assault.   He was charged as a fourth-time habitual offender.

Officials say Thornton attempted to start the fire after an argument with his girlfriend.  Court documents allege that he strangled her and then attacked her and another person with a knife.

He may face additional charges for allegedly resisting arrest and injuring an officer.