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Everman Police Identify Arson Suspect

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Everman police have identified a suspect in the arson of an apartment complex that tore through 24 apartments but have yet to make an arrest.

Saturday, families who lost everything in the fire were given bags of clothing and shoes and food and water following the massive fire at the Oakwood Terrace Apartments in Everman on Thursday. Carolyn Roney was thankful for the shoes on her feet and plans to keep them forever. For her, they symbolize the first steps toward a new beginning.

She and her mother were asleep at their apartment when someone banged on their door, waking them up.

When Roney looked outside, she saw the building in flames and told her mother to put on a jacket and her shoes and get out.

Roney was able to escort her mother to safety but when she tried to go back into her apartment to get her own shoes, it was too late.

The smoke was too thick for her to enter.

“I just stood there and cried,” Roney said. “There was nothing else I could do.”

Roney and her mother were 2 of the 75 people displaced by the fire that police was started by a man who was upset when various residents wouldn’t allow him to sleep inside their apartments.

Police say the man had been knocking on doors, asking for a place to stay.

Police have identified that man, but have not made his identity public.

Eighteen of those displaced were school age children who attended schools at Everman ISD.

Angela Johnson, who is a counselor for the district, said she began getting phones calls from people who wanted to help.

A group who calls themselves the Everman Angels, sent a post on social media, asking for donations for the displaced families.

In a matter of 48 hours, people had volunteers, clothes, shoes, toiletries, supplies, food and water had been donated by hundreds of North Texans.

“Probably about 60-70 volunteers sorted clothes that were donated, went and bought bags and packed the bags with the sizes of things that family members needed,” Johnson said. “It’s amazing to me how quickly people came together.”

The items were distributed at the Highland Hills Community Center in Fort Worth, where the American Red Cross had set up a shelter.

“I can’t thank those people enough for the level of support they’ve given to my family,” said Brandon Roney, Carolyn Roney’s son.

The American Red Cross helped families acquire permanent housing.

The shelter will close it’s doors at noon, Sunday.

Police are still examining evidence from the scene and hope to make an arrest soon.

Residents like Roney say they are just grateful they lived to tell their story.

“I’m not angry at him. I’m not. I’ve forgiven him,” Roney said. “For the fact that we made it out alive.”

If you would like to donate directly to the victims go to gofundme.com and search for Everman Angels.

All proceeds will go to the victims of the fire.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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