A man was arrested Friday in connection to a house fire in Logan Heights, California that killed his parents and sister and injured two more of his siblings, according to the San Diego Police Department.
Wilber Romero, 26, faces three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, and arson, police said.
Just before 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 13, a devastating blaze tore through the Romero family’s home on Clay Avenue. All six family members were home when the fire began.
Iris “Krystal” Romero, 21, used her body as a shield to protect her brother, Angel Romero, 17, from being burned, according to family member Tania Flores. She and her three siblings were transported to a hospital.
Iris Romero became brain dead and then died Wednesday night, SDPD said.
Wilber Romero’s parents, Jose Antonio Romero, 44, and Nicolasa Mayo, 46, also died from their injuries suffered from the house fire.
Angel Romero and his sister, Wendy Romero, 24, remained hospitalized.
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Wilber Romero was hospitalized but released shortly after the fire. Police said Wilber Romero was unhurt from the house fire.
On Thursday, SDPD announced its Homicide Unit began investigating the blaze “out of an abundance of caution.”
One day later, officers said Wilber Romero was booked into county jail.
Investigators said inadequate and outdated secuirty measures may have made it difficult for the family to escape the fiery inferno that tore through their Logan Heights home.
Jamie Felix, a long-time family friend who lives next door, said he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw the flames pouring from the Romero family's home.
"I thought it was like a scary movie. I thought it was a nightmare, honestly. I’m just like, 'This is not real. This is not really happening,'" Felix said.
Felix said the Wilber Romero had been sleeping outside when the fire began, so he was able to scream for help. His screams alerted neighbors to what was happening at the house early Sunday.
On Tuesday, a vigil was held at the Greater Antioch Church of God in Christ, which is located next door to the Romero home. The Romero family was not part of the congregation, but the tragedy compelled parishioners and loved ones to pray there in their memory.
Wilber Romero spoke at the vigil and thanked them for their thoughts and prayers. He hugged good Samaritan Byron Doxey who pulled Iris Romero out of the burning home.
Relatives said the financial burden of the surgeries, funeral expenses and future living costs without their parents and sister will be tough. A GoFundMe page was created to help the Romero family.
Wilber Romero is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 22.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the SDPD Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.
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