Apartment fire

Many people do not really understand when I say  that domestic violence is a society problem. Many think that I am referring to a vague- ‘well, society shouldn’t allow that’. But I actually mean that domestic violence is a threat to all of society and this story will illustrate just what I mean by that.

I first posted this story at CrimeNe.ws and I will admit I wondered at the time if this could be a domestic related crime. But early reports didn’t give any indications. As I had posted other attempts at causing apartment building fires though, I did wonder. Then Soobs came along and posted an update that showed the connection. Thank you Soobs.

People in a domestic violence rage do not think of repercussions of their actions to themselves or others (or at least they don’t seem to think of it until after the fact.) And any attempts to intervene between them and the object of their rage will often also be met with violence. And even innocent bystanders are also at risk, even when they do not attempt to intervene.

When I say ‘object of their rage’ I do mean that literally. They don’t see the mother of their children, they don’t see someone’s daughter or friend. What they see is something that has caused them to lose face, lose honor, lose respect (at least in their own mind), or lose in some other way. And as it is their relationship- it is their right to control or destroy.

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Tuesday at 12:47 am a fire was reported at a 135 unit apartment building. It burned for almost 2 days and the building was destroyed. Families are now homeless and have lost everything in the fire.

When the fire began many of the residents had been in bed. Many escaped the building by jumping from balconies or windows. And when they escaped, they were then exposed to freezing temperatures. Most  without coats, many in their night clothes.

At least 131 people have been displaced. Sixty one people were rescued from windows or balconies. Thirty one people were treated at the hospital for various bruises, sprains and broken bones as well as hypothermia from standing in the freezing weather, and smoke inhalation. Two people were admitted. Four firefighters were also treated for minor injuries.

It is unknown who the people were who were tenants of the building as the landlords list of tenants was burned up in the fire. Inside the burned building, firefighters have found two bodies. Those remains have not been identified as yet and have not been removed from the building.

The building is unstable, and at present is a danger to anyone who attempts to recover the bodies. The bodies are encased in ice- from efforts to fight the fire. Officials say the building will have to be stabilized before they can remove the bodies or search for more victims. Officials have not released information as to whether the bodies are men, women or children. Officials also say they do not know if other bodies might be found, but they warn that may be a possibility.

Officials say the fire spread quickly and they have determined it to be arson. They have arrested Gene Johnson, 36, on suspicion of first degree murder. Also under arrest is his cousin Derrick Johnson, 23.

The motive? Police believe the fire was triggered by an argument over the phone  between Derrick Johnson and his girlfriend. It is unknown if she was a tennant in the building but police say she was staying there. However, police say she did escape the fire.

At least one friend has said that police arrested the wrong man. “He was at a party that night,” “He was there with us.” But police believe that the two went to the roof of the apartment building with two cans of gasoline, poured it on the roof and walked away.

Both Johnsons have criminal records. Derrick Johnson is a registered sex offender. According to the landlord Derrick Johnson, his girlfriend and her child had been evicted from the apartments in 2004 for nonpayment of rent. Both Johnson’s have previous arrests for domestic violence.

The case remains under investigation. Police say they are not looking for any other suspects, but they are asking for any witnesses who may have been in the area and seen the two men to get in contact with them.

gazette.com      thedenverchannel.com      krodotv.com

thedenverchannel.com   fox21news.com  summitdaily.com

Whether it is from a poorly aimed gunshot, fighting at any attempt at intervention, or flames from a fire domestic violence is a danger to everyone in the vicinity.

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One victim has been identified as Joe Santooya, 52. The other has not been identified as yet but police say it is a male either Caucasian or Hispanic in his 30’s. Neither victim is thought to have been one of the targets. Authorities continue to search for more victims.

thedenverchannel.com

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Thanks to KatK we have updates.

The second victim has been identified as Clemente Perez Salgado, 32. No other victims have been found. A gag order has been issued in the case and three more arrests.

Patrick Lewis, 26, Eric Johnson, 24, and Sean Lovelace, 31 have been arrested and charged with accessory to first degree murder.

Two weeks after the fire, three cats were rescued from the burned out building.

thedenverchannel.com      thedenverchannel.com

thedenverchannel.com       9news.com

Update

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13 Comments

  1. Soobs said,

    January 21, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    This is such a tragedy, in so many ways. How utterly ironic, that the intended victim of this horrendous act, was a survivor. Yet one the her neighbors (at least that night) was killed, and perhaps many others.

    Home, thank you, for continuing to highlight domestic violence, AND it’s effect on the community. Hopefully, if one finds themselves as an unwilling witness to this crime, they will NOT say, “it’s not my problem.” It very well could be.

  2. Becky J said,

    January 22, 2007 at 1:08 am

    many of us who have been abused, or know of someone who has, know that domestic violence IS a society problem, it is EVERYONES business, because i can guarentee that if people were to really pay attention to things they will realize that they know at least one person who has been or is a victim. and until it is seen that way from everyone we will never get this problem under control. We need to hold abusers responsible for there actions and until witnesses, law enforcment, law makers, etc quit thinking this is a “private family matter” things wont change, although i wonder if things would change if one of there “innocent” family members were to get killed in the crossfire of a crazed abuser trying to “scare some sense into there woman/man” Abusers honestly think that they are justified in there actions regardless of who gets hurt by being pulled in the middle of the “private family matter” So the million dollar question is….how do we change this thinking???

  3. January 22, 2007 at 1:21 am

    Educating the public is a lot of it Becki. Though I was somewhat familiar with DV before I began this blog, even I didn’t realize how overwhelming it is. But seeing the cases day after day, seeing it manifest in so many ways, and seeing how many people (family, extended family, friends, and community members) it affects even I was suprised how much it affects the community. I have covered it in other posts- but take this fire for instance. It affected the girlfriend and her child. The others who lived in the apartment complex, the relatives who will probably be supplying some of them with housing until they can find somewhere else. The property owner. And don’t forget the firemen who had to fight the fire. And probably others who I haven’t even thought of.

  4. Vidalia11 said,

    January 22, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    Reading about this particular case, I believe the arsonists were not “garden variety” DV abusers but hardened career criminals and extremely dangerous psychopaths. I don’t think they cared whether they killed one or 100 people as human life is worthless to them. And society is endangered by people like these. But it’s difficult to keep them incarcerated until they do something like this.

  5. Soobs said,

    January 23, 2007 at 1:34 am

    You know, perhaps if we classify DV as just “violence”, as opposed to domestic, (and thereby minimizing the effects) stiffer penalties would be applied.

  6. Becky J said,

    January 23, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Sad but true Soobs. Also to Vidalia, i think that ALL abusers are all sociopathic dangerous criminals, they have no concious at all, you always here that they apologize after they are done with the beatings etc but in the same breath they justify the beating with “you just got me so upset, you know how to push my buttons” or “you know that makes me mad you shouldnt do it” and as someone who has lived thru it i remember vivadly telling my husband, after he did one of those apologies, “im the one who is sorry please forgive me” they are cons thats all there is to it, anyone who can do the things they do and still live with thereself is sociopathic and from what ive learned you cant cure a sociopath.

  7. Vidalia11 said,

    January 23, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Becky J, I’m sorry you were abused by your husband, and yes, he may easily be a sociopath. He may also be a “borderline personality” who cannot control his impulses; he has no idea how to manage powerful feelings of shame/rage except to act out like a toddler. I would bet he has very serious emotional/psychiatric problems. I hope you are safely away from him now.

  8. becky J said,

    January 24, 2007 at 7:24 am

    Yes thank you, he is currently in the federal pen for 3 more years approximatly on drug charges unrelated to our domestic situation, and when he does get out i have already enlisted a safety plan.

  9. January 24, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Becky are you on any list to be notified when he gets out of prison?

  10. KatK said,

    February 11, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Here are some links so you can further update this. I hope you follow this case through it’s trial, it needs to continue to be hilighted.

    Three cats rescued nearly two weeks after fatal fire
    http://www.9news.com/rss/article.aspx?storyid=63907

    Second Arrest Made In Deadly Apartment Fire
    http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/10781045/detail.html

    Second Springs Fire Victim Identified; Gag Order Issued
    http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/10827213/detail.html

    Three Additional Arrests Made In Springs Fire
    http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/10846347/detail.html

  11. February 11, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Thanks KatK, I had meant to follow up to see if they found any more victims, but then forgot to do so. Please feel free to keep us updated.

  12. KatK said,

    February 11, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    If I stumble across anything more I will post it. I live in Kansas though, so might not notice anything. I found those via a quick search to see if there was anything more. Terribly sad. I hope the families that were displaced are getting back on their feet.

  13. March 9, 2007 at 5:19 am

    […] 9th, 2007 at 5:18 am (Domestic Violence, Child) Back in Jan. I told you about the Apartment Fire. The fire displaced about 131 people from their homes and two people Joe Santooya, 52, and Clemente […]


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