Formal charges have been filed against a Mayflower man suspected of setting fire to Building A at Queens Manor Apartments on Saturday.
Carlon Elias Ricks, 23, is currently being held in the county jail in lieu of a $750,000 bond on suspicion of arson. Formal charges were filed in Faulkner County Circuit Court on Wednesday.
Arson is a Class Y felony, which carries a potential sentence of 10 to 40 years or life in prison.
The Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office responded to Queens Manor shortly before 6:30 p.m. Saturday alongside the Mayflower Fire Department. Five local fire departments worked to extinguish the flames.
Investigators were unable to sift through the rubble to search for evidence until Monday because the debris was too hot.
According to statements made to deputies the night of the fire, other tenants suspected the fire was intentional "as [an act of] retaliation from the homicide that occurred on October 2nd 2017."
On Oct. 2, 44-year-old Issac Jermaine Scott was found shot to death at 3 a.m. at the apartment complex. Spokesman Adam Bledsoe said investigators believe Scott was murdered outside of the apartments, noting "shell casings were located outside building C."
According to a probable cause affidavit, Ricks was seen leaving apartment A2 five times before the evening fire destroyed the building Saturday.
Parking parallel to the building at 6:02 p.m., he is seen in security footage making four initial trips back and forth to a gold Chevrolet Impala, loading items including his clothes and a television, the affidavit states. During these trips, the front door to the apartment was left open.
"At 6:06 p.m. Carlon Ricks went into apartment "A2" for the fifth time and he closed the front door behind him," the affidavit reads. At 6:07 p.m. Carlon Ricks exits apartment "A2", closing the door behind him. He then gets in his car and leaves the apartment building headed north on Highway 365 South."
Five minutes later, "heavy black smoke" was seen pouring from the cracks of apartment A2’s front door.
According to a search warrant of the apartment that was conducted Monday, four cans of paint were found in the apartment. Investigators believe this was the source of the flames that destroyed the building.
Court documents note that Ricks and fellow tenant Arkemia Brock filled out paperwork and paid $75 to move into apartment A2 on Oct. 5. The next day, Brock paid an additional $75.
When questioned by police, Brock said she was unsure as to how Ricks got into the apartment because she had the only key.
Ricks later agreed to speak with investigators, where he initially stated he left the apartment around 4 p.m. Saturday to leave for a party being held in Russellville.
Investigators confronted Ricks about the time stamp on the security footage, that shows Ricks going in and out of apartment A2.
According to the affidavit, Ricks admitted to entering the apartment by using his ID "to manipulate the lock mechanism and open the door."
Mayflower Mayor Randy Holland said that despite the devastation that displaced nearly 50 residents, the small town continues to show support for its residents.
With help from the American Red Cross and Mayflower Superintendent John Gray, a shelter was set up at the elementary school. Aid was provided at Mayflower Elementary School initially, those who were unable to seek shelter with family and friends were given hotel vouchers.
Holland said First Baptist Church of Mayflower is collecting donations for those affected by the fire.
"I encourage the residents of Mayflower to continue to show the compassion and strength that you have been known for through previous problems, and I thank you for the privilege of serving," he said.
As of press time Wednesday, a court date had not yet been set in Ricks’ felony case.