GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Family of a Grand Rapids man who died in a fire that was ruled arson recalled him as kind, friendly and funny.
“You do something like this, there’s consequences for everybody; consequences,” Charles James’ brother told News 8. “He needs to have his justice.”
James, 64, died June 14 when a fire broke out at the building on Bridge Street NW near Garfield Avenue where he rented a studio apartment. Family said he died of smoke inhalation. Another man in the building jumped from a second-story window to escape. He was also hospitalized for smoke inhalation.
On Friday, the mailbox for apartment 3 still had James’ name on it. Outside, there was a makeshift memorial with candles, flowers and teddy bears. Family said they are trying to focus on his life, not how it ended.
“Every family has a Charles, a fun-loving brother, uncle, nephew, guy that will help you at the drop of a dime,” James’ brother Michael Matthews said. “He was an immaculate cleaner. I mean, he’s a good guy. Make you laugh. Fun-loving guy. That’s Charles. That’s why this is so hard.”
Earlier this week, Grand Rapids police said the fire had been ruled arson. Tyeshia Minor, 38, was arrested June 20 and ultimately charged with two counts of first-degree arson and felony murder.
Family said James and Minor were acquaintances.
“Charles was loving,” Matthews said. “He’d help anybody and this is the results of him opening his door to people, being too trusting, being a person that says, ‘Hey, you need something? I got you,’ and, ‘Can I help you?’ And sometimes people come around for the wrong reason under the pretense of wanting to be your friend.”
He was hopeful there is enough evidence to support a conviction.
“To me, two plus two is four but … that don’t mean nothing if I can’t prove it,” Matthews said. “You can know a lot but you’ve got to prove it, especially in the law and they know a lot more, otherwise she wouldn’t be charged with this crime.”
Minor is scheduled to be back in court Tuesday.
Funeral services for James are scheduled for next week.