Detroit medical offices building goes up in flames, police confirm fire was arson; 2 bodies found
Updated On: Apr 10 2013 05:31:58 AM EDT
Employees of a medical office in Detroit said they first heard gunfire Tuesday morning before their building was engulfed in raging flames.
Police and fire investigators continued to sift through this rubble in search of two bodies, a man and a woman. Detroit police confirmed Tuesday evening that a woman's body was found inside the building. Later in the evening, police said the second body, a man's body, was found.
The fire broke out just after 9 a.m. at offices in the 8300 block of Grand River, which is right off Interstate 96 between Joy Road and West Grand Boulevard.
The floor of the building, which housed a dozen or more medical offices, collapsed on top of the basement and that is where investigators say the bodies are.
Employees told Local 4 a man, who does maintenance for the offices, flashed a gun as he walked through the building looking for an ex-girlfriend. Employees said they heard shots and ran out of the building. Minutes later, it caught fire.
"He came to the front desk and spoke and he went to the back and I went to go to the back and I seen him pull out his gun," said employee Delita Singleton.
Workers hid in a nearby pharmacy, fearing for their lives. Patient Cheryl Suggs ran and hid there too.
"I heard, it was like two gunshots and then you know, medical assistants were coming out and just running everywhere," said Suggs.
Nurses and other medical staff were emotional as they watched the sad scene unfold.
Clinical psychologist Kim Logan Nolin also has an office at the single-story building. She said she was on her way to work about 9 a.m. when a worker already at the building called to her to say it was on fire and that there had been a shooting.
Podiatrist Stuart Kirschenbaum said he was at his office in the building when he learned about the shooting from a security guard who yelled that a man had grabbed a woman and was firing at others.
"I'm watching 43 years of my life go up in flames," Kirschenbaum said. "This is the one thing I've always feared that would happen. And it's happened."
The suspect apparently had a gasoline can and used it to light the building on fire. Eyewitnesses told Local 4 the man pulled his ex-girlfriend and a couple of other woman into the basement with him, before let two woman go.
During a press conference, Detroit Police Department Inspector Dwane Blackmon said the fire is confirmed to be arson but that investigators were not able to confirm if the man and his intended targets had died in the fire.
"The building is not a safe building right now. So, we’re really not able to confirm anything, as far as bodies," Blackmon said.
Police said no one else in the building was hurt.
"It's like devastating because I never thought nothing like this would happen," said Singleton.
At the time, heavy smoke from the fire filled the area, making it difficult for drivers in the area.
Stay with Local 4 News and ClickOnDetroit.com for updates to this developing story.