‘She messed a lot of people’s lives up’: 7 families displaced after alleged apartment arson

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Seven families are displaced after Greensboro police say 21-year-old Aleen Smith set a fire at an apartment complex off Hahn's Lane Wednesday.

Smith appeared in a Guilford County courtroom Thursday afternoon. She told a judge she "made a bad decision" and asked for her bond to be reduced.

"It’s not something I want to continue to do, getting in trouble and stuff,” she said via video conference in court.

Smith is charged with breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, possession of a weapon of mass destruction, discharge within city limits and arson.

Court documents show officers smelled alcohol on Smith.

A spokesperson for the Greensboro Fire Department said crews had to stage at the scene and wait for at least 13 minutes before responding to the fire. Dispatchers told them to wait until Smith was in custody.

Papa Seck lived in one of the damaged units. He returned Thursday before crews boarded up his apartment door.

Seck packed what little he could salvage into his car. He recovered clothes and shoes but said most of his belongings were destroyed.

“I don’t know, just pray for her maybe. I don’t the reason why she did that, when you don’t know you can’t tell. Only thing I can tell is, she messed a lot of people's lives up now,” Seck said.

Two women spoke on Smith's behalf in court, saying that this was out of character for the 21-year-old.

According to arrest warrants, Smith stole two knives, including an antique trench knife, among other items, and had a sawed-off shotgun.

The judge maintained Smith's bond at $750,000. She's expected back in court Oct. 24.

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