Released from jail, man accused of setting fire to apartment house

One person was arrested at the scene of a fire in Bridgeport, Conn., on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

One person was arrested at the scene of a fire in Bridgeport, Conn., on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

BRIDGEPORT — A local man arrested on three successive days on a host of charges including sexual assault was charged with setting fire to an apartment house early Thursday.

Twelve people, including three young children, had to flee their apartments as smoke filled the Seaview Avenue building. There were no injuries.

Raashon White, 37, who police said had been invited by one of the tenants to stay in her apartment after getting out of jail on Tuesday, was charged with first-degree arson, reckless burning, first-degree reckless endangerment and risk of injury to a child.

“He has 13 prior criminal convictions, multiple pending cases and now faces very serious charges,” Assistant State’s Attorney Felicia Valentino said during White’s arraignment Thursday afternoon. She urged Superior Court Judge Kevin Doyle to set a high bond.

“These are serious allegations,” the judge agreed. He ordered White held in lieu of $150,000 bond and continued the case to June 8.

“Wait, what? that’s too high,” White protested.

“That’s my ruling,” the judge answered. He also ordered White placed on a suicide watch.

According to police, shortly after 4 a.m. Thursday, officers arriving on the scene of a fire at the Seaview Avenue apartment house saw a group of angry people standing around a man later identified as White who was lying on the ground. The man said he had been assaulted, police said.

Police said witnesses told officers that White had started the fire.

A female tenant of the building said White had complained to her that he was homeless and she agreed to let him spend the night in her first-floor apartment, police said.

Police said the woman told officers that she awoke to find the apartment filling with smoke. The woman’s boyfriend, who had also been in the apartment, said he had seen White allegedly light a fire in the couch with a green lighter, according to police.

The woman and her boyfriend were both relocated by the Red Cross.

Police said a second-floor tenant told them he had been asleep with his wife and three children when he heard people yelling to get out because of a fire. Police said the man went to his children’s room and found it filled with smoke.

They all made it out safely.

Police said White was searched in the police department and found to have five lighters including a green one.

Court records show White was arrested May 9 and charged with fourth-degree sexual assault and second-degree breach of peace. He was released on a promise to appear in court. The following day White was arrested again, this time charged with interfering with police and second-degree harassment. He was released again on a promise to appear.

On Tuesday, he was arrested and charged with second-degree breach of peace and second-degree criminal trespass and released a third time on a promise to appear, court records state.

Staff writer Tara O’Neill contributed to this story.