TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A man was arrested Tuesday for allegedly starting a house fire that killed his half-brother with special needs.
According to the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office, 32-year-old Robert Harrison Johnson IV was charged with murder.
Officials initially were dispatched on May 18 to the home in the 11300 block of County Road 1113, in southwestern Smith County for a structure fire with a man trapped inside. Responders removed the man, identified as 35-year-old Jack McKenzie Ross who was both mentally and physically disabled, from the home and EMS began treatment, but resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.
At the time, the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office reported that Ross’ brother was able to escape the fire before they arrived. A firefighter was injured after a powerline that was supplying electricity to the house fell and landed on his shoulder, but was released from the hospital the next day.
Smith County Fire Marshal said that Johnson, who lived in the same home as Ross, “intentionally set the fire in a bedroom of the house and left the property while the fire consumed the home.”
Johnson was later arrested without incident by the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office, with the assistance of the DeSoto Police Department, at a residence in the 1100 block of Laon Road in DeSoto, at about 10 a.m. Tuesday. Johnson was taken to the Dallas County Jail for processing before he will be brought to Smith County, where he will be held on $1 million bond set by Judge Heaton.
“Our hearts and prayers continue to go out to the family of Jack Ross as they continue to mourn his loss,” Brooks said. “The Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office is committed to finding the facts in this case in hopes we can bring some form of closure for Mr. Ross’ family.”
Brooks thanked the DeSoto Police Department for their assistance with Johnson’s arrest. He said because the investigation is ongoing, no further details can be released at this time. Johnson is considered innocent until proven guilty, he added.
Back in May, Brooks said Ross was loved by the community.
“Everybody I talked to said he was just as sweet and nice and caring a person as you can ever want to met any loss of life is tragic, but this family is very, very distraught,” he said.