Suspected Arson at San Jose Apartment Complex Leaves 6 Families Homeless - NBC Bay Area
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Suspected Arson at San Jose Apartment Complex Leaves 6 Families Homeless

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    NEWSLETTERS

    San Jose police are investigating an apartment fire allegedly started by a tenant from the complex located on North Fifth Street. Robert Handa reports. (Published Tuesday, July 21, 2015)

    San Jose police are investigating an apartment fire allegedly started by a tenant from the complex located on North Fifth Street.

    Six families are now homeless as a result of the blaze that erupted Saturday night. Police said the suspect, identified as Craig Morales, is in jail on suspicion of starting the fire.

    Many of the families displaced by the blaze report the suspect had a confrontation with police earlier in the night after he was allegedly high on drugs and ranting in public. The families said if Morales had been arrested during that incident they would not be homeless.

    Joseph Martinez, who lives at the apartment complex, said the suspect threw knives at responding officers, who in turn fired rubber bullets.

    Tenants said officers decided to let Morales stay inside his unit. Not long after that, officers returned and Morales was Tasered and taken into custody.

    The arrest was made after Morales allegedly started a fire at the complex.

    "I think they should have taken him into custody when they were first here," Martinez said. "All this would have been prevented."

    Morales' father, Antonio Morales, agrees with the tenants.

    "I strongly believe that if they would have apprehended him the first time, all of this could have been avoidable," Antonio Morales said.

    Tenants acknowledge officers faced a tough decision and could easily have been criticized for a forced entry.

    Still, for some including Nikki Castillo -- a wife and mother of three -- the bottom line is they have no place to live.

    "We're homeless," Castillo said.

    The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office is reviewing the case.

    Neighbors and community organizers have set up a donation center at the complex, located at 336 N. 5th Street, to help the displaced families.

    A PayPal account to raise donations for victims also has been set up. The PayPal account is robinl@lcomm.com.

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