"Known suspect" in custody in connection with two Milwaukee apartment building fires

Posted at 2:40 PM, Apr 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-09 03:09:15-04

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee police have a “known suspect” in custody in connection to two Sunday fires at an apartment building in the 1100 block of N. 18th Street.

In a news release, Milwaukee Police Officers said at 3:15 a.m., they “responded to a domestic violence dispute in which the suspect in the dispute started a small fire outside of an apartment door within a 20-unit apartment complex.”

Officers realized someone “used an accelerant to intentionally ignited a large fire inside a hallway of the apartment complex.”

Firefighters put out the fires and everyone inside escaped. A Milwaukee Police Officer was burned on his hand -- but is expected to be okay. No one else was injured. 

One of the tenants, Tearrah Wilson, is six and a half months pregnant. She said she heard an alarm go off and soon enough, emergency crews were on scene. 

“A whole bunch of police just got to rushing in and just kept telling us to get out of the building,” said Wilson. “The whole situation was kind of selfish. People in here got little babies and then I’m pregnant.”

Another tenant, Tinika Lewis, lives in the building with her 2-year-old son. She talked about those scary moments with the smoke spreading throughout the building. 

“We all got asthma. My son is asthmatic. I got asthma and my nephew is asthmatic too so I had to get them up out of there,” said Lewis. 

Shortly after the early morning fire, the Red Cross set up a reception center at Rehoboth New Life Center on North 21st Street. 

“We’re working with people to see next steps to see how we can help them with emergency financial assistance or shelter and housing,” said Justin Kern with the Res Cross. 

A handful of residents told TODAY'S TMJ4 they don’t have renter's insurance. 

“I just got this house a year ago. What’s going to happen?” said Tinika Lewis. 

“We’re worried about our families right now. We got kids so we need somewhere to stay,” said Tearrah Wilson. 

Milwaukee Police say they will be presenting the case to the District Attorney’s office in the following days.

A Red Cross spokesperson said he was told 64 tenants lived in the building -- which now has no electricity and damage inside from two fires.