Police say man tried to burn down home with children inside

ALAMO — A man was arrested after attempting to light his house on fire with his children inside and threatening to shoot his wife outside the residence, according to police.

Police responded to a call June 6 at about 4 a.m. of an armed man attempting to burn down a house in the 300 block of Austin Avenue.

According to the criminal complaint, the officers found 22-year-old Arnoldo De Leon Varela outside the home and detected a strong gasoline odor in the area.

Varela’s wife, Amanda Sanchez, had sought safety at a neighbor’s house, where she called police and said she had been assaulted by Varela but didn’t wish to press charges at first.

She later agreed to press charges and told investigators Varela woke her up asking for money to buy drugs and assaulted her when she refused, according to a criminal complaint.

Sanchez said she ran outside the home to attempt to call the cops, and he followed her with the rifle threatening to shoot her, the complaint states.

Sanchez hid behind a tree, and saw Varela dowsing the outside of the home with gasoline and yelling he was going to burn it down, according to the complaint. Her children — ages 5, 3, and 1 — were still inside the home, she said.

“Ms. Sanchez claimed that she felt she was going to be shot or her home was going to be burn down with her children inside,” states the complaint.

Police arrived shortly after and arrested Varela, who is now facing charges of attempted arson, assault, child endangerment and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was released the following day on a $175,000 personal recognizance bond.

Varela could face up to 99 years in prison if found guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a first-degree felony.

dperez-hernandez@themonitor.com