TABOR CITY, NC (WECT) - Fire damaged the home of a Columbus County teenager Wednesday of last week. The home is being paid for by Senator RC Soles and the teen believes he was targeted by an arsonist.
17-year-old Allen Strickland said the senator was paying for the home as part of an agreement between the two.
"He told me if I go to school he would put a roof over my head and money in my pocket, and I signed up for school and I will start classes when classes start back," said Strickland. "We made a deal and he stuck by it."
According to Strickland, Soles was also giving him money regularly which he used to buy a Corvette. The teen said the senator additionally helped him pay for his truck and four wheeler.
Not everyone close to Strickland thought the exchange was a good deal.
"My family thinks he may have something to do with this," said Strickland. "They knew what kind of money he was giving me and maybe he was tired of giving me money and he had this done. But I don't believe it."
Strickland said he fears he was being targeted. He said he thought someone planned on shooting him or throwing fire on him.
The teenager moved into the house in April and said he has filed several police reports about being harrassed by people knocking on his door in the middle of the night - and that's what he said happened just before the fire.
"I was going to set off the alarm, but it stopped," said Strickland. "Then an hour later I smelled smoke."
Officials are investigating the fire as an arson.
WECT was unable to reach Senator Soles for comment, but Strickland said their relationship began three years ago.
"He helped my brother Shawn who drowned in 2006 in Raleigh," said Strickland. "I met him [Soles] at a funeral and that's when he started helping me."
The teenager said their relationship is not intimate in any way. Strickland maintains he looks to Soles as a father figure.