A family is speaking out after an arrest in connection with a deadly fire in Sterling.
Steven Coleman is now charged with felony arson with bail set at $1,000,000 and is in the Whiteside County Jail. More charges are pending.
The fire started at the Western Apartment Complex on West 3rd street. 49-year-old Carrie Hose, 8-year-old Shyla Walker, and 13-year-old Celina Serrano lost their lives in the fire.
Shawn Walker, the father of Shyla Walker, says that his daughter’s death was senseless.
“My nephew Eric, and my son Shawn Jr, had to watch their cousins and sisters…burn and scream for help,” Walker said. “And now they gotta live with that.”
Though it hurts him every day to not see her, walker says that Shyla will live on in his heart.
“I’m not religious, I’m an atheist everybody knows that. But with everything going on, I might have to find something,” Walker said. “It’s my daughter. That’s my higher power.”
Friends and family we spoke with say they hope that Coleman serves a life sentence.
“How the guy can just smile about it while they’re taking him to jail like he’s funny and cute?” Christin Van Pelt, a family friend said. “Like it’s not funny and cute to take a little life that had so much that she still needed to do.”
“What they’re charging him right now with is just arson..They need to charge him more than that, ” Kenneth Green, Carrie Hose’s cousin said.