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Crime & Courts

Ridgebrook apartment building set on fire for the fourth time in a week

No injuries and minimal damage reported in most recent incident

The suspect in the first intentionally set fire this year has a clear alibi for the recent fires – she’s been held at the DeKalb County Jail for months on $100,000 bond.
Chikyta Williams of DeKalb is accused of aggravated arson in connection with a January fire that was set in an apartment at the complex. Prosecutors allege Williams started the fire because she was distraught over a breakup.
Shantele Clark, 37, said she moved into her apartment at Ridgebrook a couple of months ago. She said management told residents to remove welcome mats from outside of their doors after the recent fires.
Clark said she feels discouraged, since she doesn’t know whether the fires were started by a current neighbor, a former resident or a visitor. She said she hopes police find out who’s behind the arson for the sake of current residents, children included.
“Someone’s lost their mind,” Clark said.
The suspect in the first intentionally set fire this year has a clear alibi for the recent fires – she’s been held at the DeKalb County Jail for months on $100,000 bond. Chikyta Williams of DeKalb is accused of aggravated arson in connection with a January fire that was set in an apartment at the complex. Prosecutors allege Williams started the fire because she was distraught over a breakup. Shantele Clark, 37, said she moved into her apartment at Ridgebrook a couple of months ago. She said management told residents to remove welcome mats from outside of their doors after the recent fires. Clark said she feels discouraged, since she doesn’t know whether the fires were started by a current neighbor, a former resident or a visitor. She said she hopes police find out who’s behind the arson for the sake of current residents, children included. “Someone’s lost their mind,” Clark said.

DeKALB – Police report they are intensifying their investigation after another intentionally set fire was discovered Monday at the Ridgebrook apartments at 808 Ridge Drive.

According to a news release from DeKalb police, personnel responded to the apartment building about 12:30 a.m. Monday and discovered a fire inside a vacant apartment that was extinguished by a resident. No injuries and minimal damage was reported and displacement from the unit was not required, according to the release.

Fires have been reported on three of the past seven days at the three-story apartment building, starting with a fire there June 6.

DeKalb Deputy Police Chief John Petragallo said the cause of the fire was determined to be arson. Police are investigating the possibility that this incident is related to the other fires and are urging residents to report any suspicious activity, regardless of how minor it appears.

“Mostly, everyone has been very cooperative and wants to see the case come to a resolution in identifying the offender and offenders,” Petragallo said. “We’ve been met with a lot of cooperation from the witnesses.”

The fire set June 6 caused extensive damage to the building and left eight apartments uninhabitable. On Friday, two fires were set, the second of which was believed to have been started while police and fire personnel were investigating the first incident.

A joint investigation is currently underway involving DeKalb police and fire departments, the state fire marshal and the DeKalb County Major Case Squad.

In the wake of these incidents, Hunter Properties, the building’s owner, will work to install security cameras at the building within the next several days, the release said.

DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery said the investigation is intensifying, but as yet police have not made any arrests. Lowery also expressed mounting frustration with Hunter Properties, to provide adequate security for the building, including their failure to activate the security camera system there. 

“We’re waiting for the cameras to be reactivated, we’re waiting for qualified security to be in place, we’re waiting for the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with the property owner to make this a safer community,” Lowery said. “Had the cameras been working in the manner that they worked under the owner prior to Hunter, we probably would have had the offender by now.”

Hunter Properties manager Tiffany Meadows could not immediately be reached for comment.

Anyone with information about these crimes is asked to call DeKalb County Crime Stoppers at 815-895-3272 or email crimestoppers@dekalbcounty.org. All callers can remain anonymous.

Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and filing of criminal charges against the those involved.

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