Pair arrested for setting fire to Swansea home with 11 people inside

BELLEVILLE, Ill. - The St. Clair County State's Attorney's Office charged two people for allegedly setting fire to a Swansea residence over the weekend.

According to a spokesperson for the Swansea Police Department, police and firefighters were called to a home in the 1400 block of N. 2nd Street on August 25 around 9:15 p.m. A neighbor called the home after seeing a man set fire to the residence and flee; he then contacted authorities.

Eleven people were in the home at the time of the fire but they made it out safely. Six of them were juveniles, four of whom were under the age of 4 and one was a 2-week-old baby.

Police arrested 18-year-old Alissa Spears a short time after the fire. Law enforcement from Belleville and Fairview Heights responded to help locate a second suspect, identified as 18-year-old Deandre Jackson.

A Fairview Heights officer was credited with locating and apprehending Jackson.

Jackson and Spears resisted arrest with officers while at the police department.

Prosecutors charged both Jackson and Spears with aggravated arson and resisting arrest. They remain jailed on $500,000 bond each.

Some neighbors say Jackson was thrown out the home and promised to return and do harm.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said he could not comment on a possible motive at this point of the investigation.

Curtis Davis lives nearby and said his niece alerted him to the fire.  The two ran into the home on Saturday night to make sure everyone escaped safely.

“I didn’t think about it.  I just ran in there,” said Davis.

“I was scared.  I thought the flames was just going to burst in the garage and pop up,” said Davis’s niece Gabrielle Palmerlee.

Kelly praised the work of police, firefighters, and fire investigators.

“We’re thankful everybody got out of the structure alive and got out so safely,” said Kelly. “This is just the beginning of the process of bringing these 2 suspects to justice for their actions.”

Late on Wednesday, 2 family members who said they were inside the home when the fire started, shed more light on what happened. They said Jackson had a disagreement with his grandmother over the relationship he had with Spears. Family members said the disagreement escalated. They said police responded earlier in the day on Saturday when Jackson threatened to kill them. Those family members said there were 10 people inside the home when the fire started. They are now staying at a hotel and looking for a permanent place to stay.