MONROE, N.C. -- Police say three men purposely set a family cat on fire.
One suspect has been arrested and charged with felony cruelty to animals. Two more accomplices are still being sought by Monroe Police.
The cat, named Midnight, has third-degree burns to at least 30-percent of his body. Midnight is under the care of a veterinarian and expected to be okay.
"It happened because they were just downright mean,” said Monroe Police Chief Debra Duncan.
Duncan says Stanislav Nadol, Rico Bennett and Clyde Mackey were hanging out Sunday night at the Castle Road Apartments when it appears Bennett got mad at the cat, Mackey caught it and Nadol poured lighter fluid on Midnight and set him on fire.
“It was a black cat lit on fire,” said a witness who didn’t want to be identified.
Neighbors say the three men laughed about it.
Another neighbor who didn’t want to be identified says she ran into the house so she wouldn’t see or hear any more.
Midnight belongs to Audrey Hailey and her 16-year-old daughter. They’ve had Midnight for about six months. He’s known to roam around the neighborhood.
The family didn’t know if Midnight survived the fire. They looked for him but didn’t find him. Police looked, too.
Hailey says Midnight came home around 3 a.m. Tuesday after hiding underneath a dilapidated building a few yards from home.
"I called him and he came back to me and gave it some food and water and called police and they came and got him,” Hailey said.
Police arrested and charged Nadol with felony cruelty to animals. He is in jail under a $1,500 secured bond.
At last check police say Bennett and Mackey are on the run and know they are wanted. Duncan says they will be charged with felony cruelty to animals as well.
"No matter who did what, all three were in on it together, they all three did it, so in my opinion, all three deserve the same punishment,” Duncan said.