Did Detroit police miss opportunity to prevent apartment arson that injured 4?

The audio above is communication between the dispatch office and the police and fire departments.  

Detroit police made a fateful decision early Wednesday morning to leave an apartment building without first talking to four people accused of raping a 19-year-old woman during a rowdy party hours earlier.

Dispatch records show police were called to Jason Manor Apartments at 3:02 a.m. to investigate a rape. The first of two squad cars arrived at 3:30 a.m.

Searching for bodies/Michael A. Brouwer
Searching for bodies/Michael A. Brouwer

Police decided to leave at 5:12 a.m. after interviewing witnesses.

“There’s no answer at the door,” an officer told a dispatcher before leaving.

Less than 45 minutes earlier, officers were called back to the scene, where flames were quickly consuming the three-story building.

“There are people trapped in the building,” one of the officers told dispatchers. “People are jumping out of the window.”

Today, two of the rape suspects were taken into custody, and they are being questioned about the fire.

Deputy Chief Rodney Johnson told us today that detectives were sent to the apartment building after the officers left but were “unable to conduct anymore interviews at the scene because the apartment complex was engulfed in flames.”

“Detectives went to the hospital to interview the victim and witnesses,” Johnson said. “The investigation continues. The detectives have a vague description of a suspect and subsequently are actively pursuing all leads received from the victim and witnesses who were interviewed at the scene and at the hospital.”

Officials continued to search for bodies in the charred rubble today. Accelerants were found at the scene. 

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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