Residents’ return to Suffolk Tower Apartments delayed after suspected arson


SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Suffolk Tower Apartments residents displaced after this week’s fire did not return home Thursday as planned.

Mike Queen with Suffolk Towner maintenance told WAVY’s Kiahnna Patterson that none of the roughly 40 residents displaced would move back in because air quality tests were still pending.

“Put the brakes on this, make sure it’s safe, and then we’ll go from there,” Queen said.

Residents were outside on Thursday morning wondering when that move in date would be. There were two boarded up windows still at the building, which caught fire on Tuesday morning. It broke out on the fifth floor and five people ended up being rescued.

Investigators believe a resident of the fifth floor, 69-year-old Herbert Macarery Boothe, started the fire. He was booked in Western Tidewater Regional Jail on July 16.

Boothe was arraigned on July 19 on the following charges: arson, assault on law enforcement/DOC person and attempted sexual battery.

He’ll be back in court on August 30.

Herbert Boothe (Photo courtesy: Western Tidewater Regional Jail)

The fire happened just two weeks after a major water leak forced evacuations at the apartments. In 2014, more than 60 people were displaced after a fire at the building. In January 2017, a 52-year-old man was arrested on arson charges after an overnight fire.

WAVY will continue to follow this story as it develops.

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