Upshur man facing child neglect, weapons charges
BUCKHANNON — An Upshur County man has been arrested for child neglect after one of his children allegedly started a structure fire at 11 1/2 E. Main St. earlier this month, and also faces a weapons charge from an earlier incident.
Melvin Tyler Jr., 29, of Buckhannon, was arrested for child neglect creating risk of injury, a felony; and persons prohibited from possessing firearms, a misdemeanor.
Buckhannon Police Officer Angel McCauley responded to the fire call to assist the Buckhannon Fire Department on June 20 and was met by the children’s grandfather, Floyd Edwards, who stated that the 6-year-old had started the fire, according to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s office.
Tyler was unable to be found or contacted by law enforcement but did show up at the scene later, according to McCauley.
McCauley said she was requested by firefighters to come to the apartment and found a plastic container with several razor blades and used needles. The officer collected an uncapped, loaded needle which was within reach of children and the container.
McCauley then visited a residence on Third Street to look for Tyler and Edwards. Edwards told the officer he had been taking a nap and when he woke up, Tyler was gone so he felt obligated to stay with the children so they would not be alone. Later, they were getting ready to leave the apartment to go ride hoverboards when the 6-year-old came into the room and told him there was a fire.
“After attempting to put it out, Edwards made sure the kids got out of the building safely,” McCauley wrote in the criminal complaint.
Edwards does not have the mental capacity to care for children and Tyler knows this but left the children alone with Edwards without regards to safety, according to the complaint.
“Several family members stated that Tyler has a history of disappearing for hours and the kids are often left with whoever will watch them with no regard to the children’s personal safety,” McCauley wrote.
The owners of one downtown business, Jesterline, have made complaints about the kids being left unsupervised for several hours.
“There have also been several incidences during patrol where the children were on Main Street in Buckhannon unsupervised,” McCauley said. “The children, age 5, 6 and 7, are frequently observed alone.” CPS referrals have been made, according to the criminal complaint.
In the firearms incident, Sgt. William Courtney said he was dispatched on May 5 for a suspicious person call in which Tyler was walking down East Main Street carrying a revolver. Courtney made contact with Tyler as he was coming out of his apartment, who denied having a firearm in his possession. However, Courtney obtained security footage from a business that shows Tyler walking with the revolver in his right hand.
Tyler has a prior felony grand larceny conviction from April 3, 2013 and is prohibited from possessing a firearm.
On May 6, Courtney executed a search warrant at the Tyler residence and a loaded .22 caliber Ruger revolver was recovered, police said.
Magistrate Mike Coffman set bond at $35,000.
Child neglect creating risk of injury carries one to five years in the state penitentiary and persons prohibited from possessing firearms carries a fine of $100 to $1,000 and/or 90 days to one year confinement.