Detroit man charged with murder, arson in fire that killed 5 people on city's east side

Henry Keith Jackson charged with 5 counts of felony murder, arson

DETROIT – A 55-year-old Detroit man was arraigned Friday in connection with an apartment fire that killed five people on Detroit's east side.

Henry Keith Jackson is charged with five counts of first-degree felony murder and five counts of first-degree arson.

Jackson is accused of tying rags around items inside his apartment unit and lighting the rags on fire during a fight with his roommate. Officials said he also lit a recliner on fire and threw it down the stairs.

Detroit fire officials said once a door was opened and Wednesday's severe winds poured into the building, the fire erupted like a bomb.

Firefighters found James Johnson, 63, in a bottom unit and pulled him out of the building. He died at the hospital.

They found four other tenants -- Leo Dear, William Ballard, Norman Connors and Ramon Davis -- dead upstairs.

Detroit officials said that residents should not have been living inside the apartment complex. The last city inspection of the building was in 2014, when the owner was told to get in compliance. Officials admitted the Building and Safety Department didn't follow up.

The apartment was run as a group home for men with mental challenges, but the owner didn't have a certificate of compliance or a certificate of occupancy with the city.

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