They say if you play with fire, you’re going to get burned.
Nobody knows that better than Vantrez Diego Grant, who said he was just trying to teach his girlfriend a lesson by torching some of her things but ended up burning the house down.
Now the 33-year-old North Charleston resident is sitting in the Charleston County jail charged with third-degree arson.
Grant also is charged with criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature. His girlfriend, 25-year-old Katie Shumpert of West Ashley — the one who lost her house — said that charge is an exaggeration, and she points to her face without a mark to prove it.
She talked with the newspaper by telephone after Grant’s bail hearing Monday night; she missed the hearing. Magistrate Alvin Bligen set Grant’s bail at $50,000 on each charge, or $100,000 total.
It all started about 4:45 p.m. Saturday, when Charleston County deputies were called to the River Oaks complex at 1102 Hillside Drive to check out reports of a fire. It’s a neat community of small white rental units with black shutters.
Shumpert’s house was destroyed. The blaze also melted the vinyl siding on the adjacent unit.
Deputies found Grant at the entrance of the complex.
Shumpert said she and Grant got into a fight and she left. Grant sent her text messages on her cellphone saying he was going to burn her stuff. Then he told her the house was on fire and he couldn’t control it.
Shumpert said she told Grant she didn’t believe him. So Grant sent her a photo of the house burning.
“He was scared and didn’t know what to do,” she said.
Grant told the judge it was an accident.
“I was drunk, and it was not intentional,” he said. “This right here (the deputy’s affidavit) makes it seem like I just set out to be a monster and start beating on somebody and set their stuff on fire. That’s totally untrue.”
He said he’s been working as a manager at a Jiffy Lube for the past year and trying to turn his life around.
“I’ve been trying to do something good,” he said.
Shumpert also said Grant set the house on fire by accident.
“He was trying to burn some of my clothes,” she said. “He was not trying to burn the house.”
The affidavit states Shumpert, who weights 120 pounds, told deputies that Grant, who weighs 230, hit her several times with his closed fist, “causing visible damage to her left eye.”
Shumpert denied that Grant caused any marks on her face.
“It was nothing like that,” she said. “That was my reasoning for speaking with you all and getting this picture, to prove that I have no makeup on right now and there’s no cuts, wounds, bruises, wounds, nothing except a few pimples on my face.”
She said she will try to get the criminal domestic violence charge dropped.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.