Apartment building in North Myrtle Beach burning
A man facing five centuries in prison for allegedly starting a fire at a North Myrtle Beach area apartment building will soon undergo a mental evaluation.
After the evaluation, he could be freed on bond.
Police charged James Rusenko with 21 counts of second-degree arson following a February blaze at an Ocean Creek Plantation apartment building. Rusenko was in Horry County court on Monday for a bond hearing.
Around 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 22, firefighters and police responded to a reported structure fire on Ocean Creek Drive, according to a police report. Ocean Creek Plantation is in the North Myrtle Beach area near Barefoot Landing.
Crews found a three-story building with 21 units in smoke and flames, which were visible coming from multiple floors of the structure.
Residents were evacuated while crews battled the blaze.
Defense Attorney Jonny McCoy said the fire started after Rusenko had a mental breakdown.
“Obviously, there are some severe, severe concerns of psychiatric issues,” McCoy said.
Rusenko had a mental breakdown and made statements to the police about how Jesus told him to start the fire, McCoy said. Rusenko was also naked after the blaze.
He started the blaze by setting fire to curtains in his apartment that spread, McCoy said. Rusenko has been at J. Reuben Long Detention Center since the incident.
Rusenko has an appointment at a mental health facility in Charleston later this month, McCoy said. That program includes 10-day inpatient care.
Horry County Judge Steven John ordered that Rusenko be held in J. Reuben Long Detention Center until the evaluation. Once that review is complete, the case will need to come back to court to determine where Rusenko will live.
His parents, who were present for the bond hearing, live in the same complex. But, McCoy said Rusenko can live with his aunt.
Rusenko will also have to post $30,000 bond and is barred from returning to the Ocean Creek Plantation property.