Reporting Rochelle Ritchie
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City police say two men are dead after being found in the basement of an apartment building that caught fire early Monday morning.
Rochelle Ritchie has more on what has now turned into a homicide investigation.
Investigators believe this fire was set intentionally and some in the neighborhood believe the men were locked in the basement at the time of their death.
Horrified friends of the two men found dead inside the basement of the apartment building are still in shock.
“It doesn’t hit you that fast that somebody is going to be taken away from you,” said Amor Randolph.
Just before 3 a.m. Monday, neighbors awakened to loud screams and smoke.
“I woke up hearing somebody yelling,” said Joe Palachek. “I realize somebody was yelling `Fire!’ They knocked down the door, the one that’s boarded up now, and I started to see some flames.”
It took firefighters just four minutes to get to the building. The first floor was on fire and the second and third levels were showing smoke. After putting the fire out, the two men were taken to the hospital, where they died. Police have not identified them.
“I was at my doctor appointment this morning. I am totally messed up in the head,” said a neighbor.
Investigators have not released details surrounding their death but several friends of the victims tell WJZ the market was robbed prior to the fire being set and the two men were forced to the basement and locked inside.
“The basement locks from the inside so the only way to lock them inside was to take a padlock and put it on the door and they put it on the door and set the place on fire, leaving them down there,” said Randolph.
Da Vinci’s is now boarded up as the investigation continues. Police are now looking at surveillance video which, according to neighbors, shows their last moments of life.
Baltimore City fire officials say this now brings the number of fire-related deaths to 13.