MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police have a man in custody after a deadly apartment fire Friday night in Minneapolis.
Police say they arrested 30-year-old Marcus Dewayne Shanks Saturday morning on probable cause of murder.
The fire started just before 11 p.m. on the 1500 block of Park Avenue South.
Iris Mitchell was one of the first tenants to escape, but it is what she says she saw before that has her shocked.
“I [saw] some guy in the hallway. I don’t know him. And he stops and I said, ‘What the F are you doing?’ He said, ‘I’m [about to] set y’all on fire, y’all need to get up out of here.’ And that’s when I ran,” Mitchell said.
With the front stairwell engulfed in flames, Jennifer Tesch said she tried running out back but found it filled with black smoke.
“I thought we were going to die,” Tesch said.
She then heard screams from a neighbor who was threatening to jump out a window.
“She threw her cushion [outside] and she was going to jump, and I said, ‘It’s not time for that right now,'” she said.
Two people jumped from the third floor before fire crews arrived. They were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where one of them died early Saturday morning. The other victim is still hospitalized.
Tesch and several others waited next to the window as firefighters arrived. They were then pulled out and taken down ladders to safety.
“Very thankful. Seriously you guys, I’m shocked,” Tesch said.
That disbelief partially stems from how the fire started.
Mitchell said the man she saw a man in the stairwell who threatened to light the building on fire was spraying lighter fluid on the carpet.
“That’s where my tears are from, is we lost an innocent community member because of somebody’s foolishness,” Tesch said.
Capt. Joe Lompart from the Minneapolis Fire Department says one firefighter suffered a minor injury.
A resident was also reunited with their cat after it was rescued by a firefighter.
Authorities say the building is uninhabitable, and the American Red Cross is helping 20 to 30 people.
Minneapolis police’s homicide and arson units are assisting the Minneapolis Fire Department in the investigation.