Family member of 22-year-old Joanna Mei say she has a history of mental illness. She’s been charged in starting a fire in her own Brooklyn apartment building that killed two and injured seven.
Mei told authorities she was angry at other tenants in the building, who she claimed left trash in the hallways. On the night of the fire, her rage about the trash built to a fevered pitch and she set a garbage can on fire. She claimed she attempted to put it out by kicking the can over. However, this only made matters were as the flaming trash made contact with a nearby puddle of gasoline.
The fire that began in a first-floor stairwell spread. The fire department’s dogs would later sniff out some kind of accelerant on both Mei and on the third floor, where Mei lived. On that same floor lived a couple in their thirties and their two children, as well as the couple’s parents: Xi Huang, 58, and Feng Xu, 56. Both Huang and Fu perished in the fire, while the family of four had to be taken to a hospital for treatment after firefighters tamed the blaze. Three of those firefighters also sustained injuries.
Though Mei initially denied her involvement, the dogs’ suspicious sniffs coupled with a nurse who discovered a burn on Mei’s hand set investigators on her tail. She has since admitted to starting the fire, and has been charged with arson and two counts of murder. Her attorney has argued she didn’t mean to kill anyone—her 10-year-old sister also lived in the building—but this kind of thing is the bell you can’t unring, as they say. Looks like Mei, metaphorically speaking, is also flaming garbage.
Featured Image: Joanna Mei (CBS2)