Reward increased for info leading to arrest of suspect in deadly Village Apartment fire


San Marcos, TX – It has been over a year now since the tragic Village Apartment fire that killed five people and injured multiple others, in San Marcos.

More than a year after the fire at the iconic apartments, the investigation into the fatal fire, which officials say was set intentionally, continues.

In November, investigators announced the fire at the Village Apartments on July 20, 2018 was no accident, it was intentionally set.

On the morning of July 20, 2018, fire marshals and police officials reported to the fire at the complex, located at 222 Ramsay St.

The Village Apartments were built in the late 70’s. Fire Marshal Kelly Kristner said the buildings were up to code but did not have a sprinkler system or a central alarm system. Causing residents to depend on individual smoke alarms in their room to warn them.

July 20th’s blaze claimed the lives of five people: 21-year-old Belinda Moats, 19-year-old Haley Michele Frizzell, 21-year-old David Ortiz, 20-year-old Dru Estes, and 23-year-old James Miranda.

Among those who were seriously injured is Zachary Sutterfield, 21, who is still recovering at the San Antonio Military Medical Center.

The focus of the Sutterfield family has broadened from worrying about their son to worrying about college students everywhere. The focus of the lawsuit recently filed is to investigate the matter in a way that will prevent this kind of catastrophe from happening in the future.

“My number one goal is, I don’t want another parent or loved one to see what I saw on day one,” DJ Sutterfield, Zach’s mom, shared. “We need to educate, and we need to change laws. We don’t want this to happen again. The last 40 days have changed our lives. If it can happen to our family, it can happen to anyone. I sent my son to college never expecting to be sitting here wishing the laws were different.”

Zach has undergone multiple operations and is currently on surgery fourteen. Those surgeries consist of skin grafts, optometric surgeries, neurosurgeries, and plastic surgeries on his face.

“It’s a rollercoaster. He has good days and he has bad days.” Karl Sutterfield, Zach’s dad, states, “We know we aren’t out of danger, but we hold on to his improvements. Every day he is with us is a good day.”

Zach is still in the ICU burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center, and his doctor’s are still constantly reminding the family that Zach currently has a 50% chance of survival. However, Zach also was not supposed to survive the first 72 hours after the fire, and it was projected that both feet would need to be amputated. Now, a little over a month after the Iconic Village Apartment fire, Zach is still fighting… with both of his feet.

Karl and DJ spend time cheering Zach on and decorating his room with the cards they continue to receive. Recently they have been able to spend some moments with some special people. The Sutterfields were able to meet the first responders who worked the fire the night and two of the fire victims who helped guide Zach to safety.

“The investigation is ongoing and continues to be actively worked,” said Kistner. “We frequently receive new leads and information; all of which are followed-up on until exhausted. Although no specific suspect has been identified, the investigative team is confident the case can and will be solved.”

The City of San Marcos has announced an increase in the reward for information regarding the fire at the Iconic Village Apartments.

If you have any information regarding the Iconic Village Apartment Fire in San Marcos, TX please call 888-ATF-TIPS. The reward has been increased to $110,000. Any information aiding to solve this case would help to bring some closure to the families and residents.

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