Authorities have arrested a third person facing charges in a deadly fire last month in Lowell, Massachusetts, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan announced Sunday.
Alexander Gaye, 16 of Lowell, was arrested Sunday after a Lowell police detective spotted an individual who was believed to be Gaye around 3:20 p.m. in the vicinity of Merrimack Street. Detectives approached the person, positively identified him as Gaye and placed him under arrest without incident, officials said.
Gaye is facing multiple charges in connection with intentionally setting fire to a building located at Westford Street on Feb. 10., including murder, arson of a dwelling, three counts of armed assault to murder, injury to a firefighter and intimidation of a witness.
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The fire resulted in the death of third-floor resident Em Chak, injured three other tenants, two Lowell firefighters and one police officer. It spread to two other buildings, displacing more than 50 people.
Gaye is expected to be arraigned Monday morning in Lowell District Court. Attorney information wasn't immediately available.
The two others facing charges in connection to the fire -- Julian Boykins and Tanya Karadanis -- were both arrested last week.
Boykins, 20 of Lowell, was arrested at a Pawtucket Street residence without incident on March 11, and arraigned the following day on the same charges as Gaye, plus conspiracy. Boykins was ordered held without bail and is due back in court on April 1.
Boykins was arrested on unrelated charges on Feb. 17. While he was in custody, authorities say he was in contact with his girlfriend, 19-year-old Karadanis, whom he allegedly instructed to destroy the SIM card from his phone.
Karadanis was also arrested and arraigned on March 11 on the charges of evidence tampering and conspiracy. Judge Ellen Caulo set bail at $5,000 cash with conditions that she stay away from and have no contact with any victims or codefendants and submit to GPS monitoring with certain exceptions for work. She is due back in court Monday.
According to authorities, a cigarette lighter was applied to a trash bag and left in the back hallway of the apartment building. Boykins and Gaye are accused of driving to the scene with the intent of setting the fire.
"This underscores, once again, that using fire as a weapon is particularly dangerous, given the unpredictability of what will happen," Ryan said.
Crews battled the fire in freezing temperatures for hours in the early morning. Firefighters from surrounding communities were called to douse the flames at the apartment building around 3:15 a.m., authorities said at the time.
Red Cross Massachusetts was helping around 44 displaced residents, including 13 children, find a place to stay. The Red Cross says the fire affected three structures. The home it originated in, 98/100 Westford Street; the building next-door, which is 102-110 Westford; and 12 Royal Street, which is the building behind the structure on fire.
Two women, Daphne Lopez and Alyssa Andrews, were inside the building when the fire broke out.
They dialed 911 when they saw all the smoke and flames and then ran up and down the apartment building to wake up the other residents. Around 25 people who live in the building all came out the front door, according to the women.
The two women called another resident, Chhanna Chhay, to warn her. Chhay was able to get most of her family outside, but was worried about whether her grandfather made it out.
"My mom was still on there on the roof waving for help so I’m just hoping everybody was okay, but my grandfather, I don’t know,” Chhay said.
This investigation is being conducted by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, Massachusetts State Police Detectives assigned to that office, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and Massachusetts State Police assigned to that office, Lowell Police, Lowell Fire, the Massachusetts State Police Violent Apprehension Section and the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office.