Man in custody, 18 displaced after fire at Phoenix apartment complex

PHOENIX - One man is in custody and 18 people have been displaced after a fire ripped through a north Phoenix apartment building on Friday morning.

Phoenix police responded to the complex near 14th and Vogel avenues around 7:30 a.m. after receiving calls of "unknown trouble" and a possible fire inside one of the units.

Witnesses reportedly told responding officers that someone was being held inside one of the apartments against his will.

When Phoenix fire units arrived just before 8 a.m., firefighters found flames and smoke coming from a second story window. They were able to stop the fire from spreading to more units, but smoke filled the attic and caused connecting units to become unlivable.

As officers began evacuating apartments in the complex, they found two men leaving a second story unit and detained both men for questioning.

Phoenix police said one of the men, Mark Campbell, told officers that he works for the complex and was walking the property when he noticed smoke coming from one of the units.

Campbell, a manager at the complex, reportedly forced entry into the apartment and found 41-year-old John Gopher inside armed with a knife.

"I don't know what's going on with him but he set the room on fire and I tried to put the fire out and he attacked me," Campbell said. "He was just normal all the way up to now." 

When the Gopher threatened the victim, the complex employee grabbed the knife from the suspect, sustaining a cut to his hand, before they both exited the apartment.

Details about what led Gopher to barricade himself inside the apartment are unclear at this time.

Phoenix police said an investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Campbell says he is just happy to be alive and that everyone else got out safely. 

The American Red Cross is helping to find lodging for the 18 residents who were displaced by the fire.

 

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