ATLANTA -- More information is coming out about the man accused of starting a fire that ultimately led to the collapse of a major Atlanta interstate.
Basil Eleby appeared in court for the first time on Saturday and now faces charges of criminal damage to property and arson. But to the people he interacts with every day, the news comes as a surprise.
Before the I-85 collapse, you could find Eleby walking the streets of Midtown. He was certainly no stranger to business in the area.
"Everybody local pretty much knows him," said local employee, Mike.
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Mike works at the liquor store off of Cheshire Bridge Road - not far from the collapse. He said Eleby would sometimes pick up odd jobs around his shop.
"Whatever we needed him to do - clean, sweep, take out the trash - he would do it," he said. "He did it for a lot of the businesses around here."
He helped at places like Tower Beer, Wine and Spirits off of Piedmont Road.
They said Eleby would wash their windows - and every once in a while ask for some spare change. Workers there described him off camera as 'harmless' and the last person you would think of to set a bridge on fire.
Mike said the same.
"He's quiet but not all the way there," he said. "But not just a rogue person who is running around trying to burn down a whole bridge that going to cause chaos in Atlanta."
Mike said he didn't think Eleby did it on purpose.
11Alive spoke with a number of other on the street about Eleby - including some people who didn't know him. One man used some harsh language when we asked. And a lot of people are very angry about how this collapse has affected them and their businesses.
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