" 'He takes medication. He doesn't work … at this time,' Zike said about her husband, who recently lost his job."
Wife: Man accused of setting apartment fire was depressed
By JOSH POLTILOVE | The Tampa Tribune
Published: September 21, 2009
Updated: 15 min. ago
TAMPA – As a Leto High School senior left for school early this morning, she noticed her father waving goodbye from the family's apartment window. She thought it was unusual that her unemployed dad was awake so early.
Not long after, Mahlet Gemeche said, her father set a fire at their apartment complex.
It became a three-alarm blaze that drew 60 firefighters. About 16 families were displaced, and damage was extensive, though no one was injured.
Authorities took Gezaheign Awasi, 45, into custody after the fire started this morning at Baywater Apartments, 6910 W. Waters Ave.
"I don't feel sorry for him, but I feel sorry for everyone else," Gemeche said.
Gemeche's mother, Tsehai Zike, said her husband is a good man who reads the Bible. He had become depressed, she said.
"He takes medication. He doesn't work … at this time," Zike said about her husband, who recently lost his job.
Gemeche, 18, asked Zike to go back to the apartment this morning and check on Awasi after seeing him at the window.
Zike did, and she said Awasi would not let her in the locked apartment. Zike called her daughter, telling her to come home, and Zike saw the fire as she was leaving the building.
Flames started shooting out the apartment's windows and roof. Gemeche returned to the scene and initially thought her father was still inside the apartment.
"I thought he was in the house burning," she said.
Terry Heddings, who lives in the complex, awoke just before 6 to the sounds of what he thought were children playing as they waited for a school bus.
But when he looked out his window, he saw the flames and realized the sounds came from a chaotic scene. Heddings went to his car to move it out of the way of emergency vehicles. He said that's when he was attacked by a man he didn't know.
The man said he had set the fire, Heddings said.
" 'Are you happy now? We're all gonna burn,' " Heddings said the man told him.
"I didn't realize he had started the fire until he started dancing in the street," said Heddings, who had a torn shirt and bandages on his arms.
Heddings said he pointed out the man to law enforcement officials. The man turned out to be Awasi, who was taken from the scene while handcuffed on a stretcher.
Another witness collaborated Heddin