CHICAGO (CBS) — A man stood accused Monday of going after his ex-girlfriend by trying to set her building on fire in the Englewood community.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, the ex-girlfriend said she had an order of protection. Still, there was no stopping the attack.
Police have arrested the suspected arsonist. But what is scary is how investigators say he was so set to harm his ex that he placed others in the building in just as much danger.
As Felicia Ferguson loaded her sons into their sport-utility vehicle on Monday, she could not help but reflect on her frightening weekend when a knock at the door woke her.
“The police are like: ‘You need to get out the building! The building’s on fire!’” Ferguson said. “And I’m like, ‘What?’ So I’m like, tell my son, ‘Open the door!’ I opened the back. He opened the front. As soon as he opened the front door, all the smoke come in.”
The smoke was from a fire that Chicago Police said Christopher Stewart intentionally started.
The investigation revealed that Stewart came to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment building at 72nd and Sangamon streets – where Ferguson also lives – and set the hallway on fire.
“If this had been in the middle of the night, we could have all been dead because of this,” Ferguson said.
Police said Stewart hopped in a rideshare vehicle, and went to a gas station to get gasoline in a can. And despite his ex-girlfriend having an order of protection against him, he started the fire and then jumped back into the waiting car.
Stewart is charged with arson and violating that order of protection.
“You’re not just hurting her. She don’t stay here. This not a house. This is an apartment building.” Ferguson said. “So whatever you’re trying to do with her, you’re affecting all of us.”
Evidence of the fire was visible on the sidewalk. Thankfully, police responded to the woman’s 911 call when she spotted her ex outside the building.
“I’m not, you know, under the impression that in order of protection is always going to be the only thing that’s going to work,” said Daniel Parisi-Ruffato of Ascend Justice, a nonprofit that deals with domestic violence survivors.
Parisi-Ruffato said there is a good chance the steps taken by the victim played an important role in his arrest.
“If someone calls to report that their abuser is standing outside and they have a protective order, that should be something police respond to quickly,” she said.
Stewart remained locked up Monday night. There was no indication the rideshare driver Stewart hired was aware of what police said Stewart was up to.