Conway barricade suspect set home on fire as SWAT team searched inside, police say

Bernard Jackson -
Bernard Jackson -

As the Horry County SWAT team searched inside a Conway home for a man barricaded inside, police say he set the stairs on fire, forcing SWAT to retreat Wednesday evening.

After SWAT exited the home, police arrested 37-year-old Bernard Emmanuel Jackson, of Conway, when he yelled he was coming outside, according to a release from the Horry County Sheriff's Office.

Online records show Jackson is charged with second-degree arson, resisting arrest and trespassing.

The incident began around noon when sheriff's deputies attempted to evict him from a home on Harden Drive in Conway.

When deputies arrived, the release says Jackson went inside, locked the doors and pulled the window shades down. As officers attempted to get Jackson to come outside, they heard "a loud noise" inside the home, prompting them to back out of the area, police said.

That was when the Horry County police SWAT team took control of the situation.

The release explains how negotiators with the FBI, sheriff's office and HCPD tried to talk with him during the hours-long standoff, but he wouldn’t come out.

After officers determined Jackson was alone inside the home, SWAT members entered the home to search for him on the second floor, according to authorities. Once inside, they "smelled a strong odor of gasoline," the release states.

As they moved upstairs, police say Jackson set the the stairs on fire, forcing SWAT to exit the home.

Jackson then said he was coming out and exited the house before being detained, authorities said. He was immediately treated because his shoes had ignited during the exit.

Police say Jackson and his wife believe they are not U.S. citizens and are not subject to "the laws and authority of the United States or any courts in the Unites States or the State of South Carolina," according to the Sheriff's Department.

Officials consider Jackson and his wife to be "sovereign citizens" because of their beliefs and actions, according to the release.

According to the FBI, "sovereign citizens are anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or 'sovereign' from the United States. As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement."