Woodscape residents speak out after accused arsonist appears in court

- There was hardly a look of remorse on the face of Jesus Lopez, the man charged with setting fire to Woodscape Apartments in east Charlotte on Monday. In fact, he was smirking while at court today.

Lopez reportedly set the apartments ablaze in an attempt to take revenge on his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend. In court, he denied being the ex-boyfriend of the girl he's accused of targeting.

But his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend told FOX 46 Charlotte that she feels guilty. More than 130 people living at the complex are now without a home because of what her ex-boyfriend is accused of doing.

Lopez is due back in court next month. His bond has been set at over one million dollars based four separate charges, but some don’t feel that's enough.

Renee Mack, a Woodscape resident, is frustrated that Lopez is only facing charges presumably related to trying to kill his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend.

RELATED: CMPD: Man arrested for setting apartment fire that displaced 130 people

“We're victims too, not only that, we're homeless too, we're not even considered victims in this, that's wrong,” said Renee Mack, a Woodscape resident displaced by the fire.

Some of the people whose homes were destroyed in the fire say they blame Lopez's ex-girlfriend for not going to the police about issues sooner.

“We wish the young couple he was going after would've spoken up sooner to ensure this wouldn't have happened,” Hector Vaca from Action N.C. translated for one of the displaced residents.

Other residents also spoke out against Co-owner of Woodscape Apartments David Fontana who they believe is not doing what they feel is enough to help them.

“These families are in crisis they need something now. Some of these families are also being told that because their apartments weren’t technically burnt, as much as the rest, that they’re not going to get the same support as everybody else. But, the truth of the matter is, they’re just as homeless. They’re living in a shelter just like the rest of them,” said Vaca, during a press conference Thursday.

During that meeting families, still reeling from the trauma of escaping flames in the middle of the night, said the landlord is not doing all that he can to help the displaced residents, despite what he’s said publicly.

“It could have been you, it could’ve been your family. How could you not have money when you have all these properties? Where’s the help from you? Where’s the care and compassion that you said, you cared about us?,” said Mack. She says paid her rent through September, however, the landlord refuses to refund her.

Fontana told FOX 46, that if residents wanted to move out he would refund rent that was paid in advance, as long as, residents could provide receipts.

In the meantime, Fontana said he’s working to get people back in their homes as fast as possible. For those whose apartments burned to the ground, he said he’s helping move them into other properties, that his company owns.

He said there’s only so much he can do to while remaining fair to all of the displaced residents. He explained that most of the residents didn’t have renter’s insurance, saying it would help those who want to leave the shelter and stay in a hotel. 

During the meeting some of displaced residents thanked the Red Cross, organizations, and people who came out in record numbers to help.

RELATED: Community works to get results for 130 displaced by fire that was intentionally set

The Red Cross also held a meeting Thursday at a nearby church to rally support from community organizations to help the residents.

"Obviously the shelter can't stay open forever. I mean, we're here to help as long as we can but, the goal is to get all of our community partners together to see how we can transition these families into long-term housing,” said Veronica Muir from the Red Cross.

She explained, they are faced with the challenge of finding displaced residents housing comparable to the $500 to $700 they were paying in rent at Woodscape,  

Action N.C. says those who still want to Get Results for families affected by the fire, can help by providing victims rides to and from work. The Red Cross asked those who want to Get Results to give monetary donations directly to their organization so they can help with the specific needs of each family. 

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