After two men were found dead inside a Boston Housing Authority complex in Roslindale — one Wednesday and one Thursday — a woman was discovered with symptoms police characterized as “system failure” and rushed to a hospital.
“Right now these are sudden deaths that are unique, in that they occurred at the same period in time and [had] similar symptoms presented, so we want to see exactly what we have here, see whether . . . somebody might have consumed something,” said Daniel Linskey, the Boston Police Department’s superintendent in chief, speaking in front of the six-story red brick complex that caters to the elderly and disabled.
Linskey said police are awaiting a toxicology report, which may take several days to complete, for a determination of a cause of death.
Authorities have not released the names of the three, but said they all appeared to be in their 50s or 60s and were residents at the Roslyn Apartments just off Hyde Park Avenue.
The deaths were not being treated as homicides, Linskey said.
Wednesday at 10:56 a.m., a man was found dead on the second floor, police said, but would not specify where.
Thursday at 5:42 a.m., another man was found dead in the third-floor hallway, near apartment 315.
Alarmed by the discoveries of the two bodies, authorities conducted a wellness check on a friend of the two men, a woman who lived inside 315.
Authorities found the woman at 9:55 a.m. in a “state of distress” and suffering from symptoms similar to what they believe the men experienced, officials said.
She was able to talk to authorities as she was rushed to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, police said.
One neighbor reported smelling a pungent odor on the third floor Thursday and was so nervous about it, she called relatives to pick her up.
“It was overwhelming; if you went up there, you would know what I mean, because it kind of knocks you back,” said Rita Arisme, who arrived at the building to pick up her grandmother.
Lydia Agro, spokeswoman for the Housing Authority, said the agency had checked the Roslyn apartment building’s systems, including carbon monoxide detectors, and had found no reason to evacuate residents.
The police activity, along with about a half dozen firefighters on scene, unnerved residents, leaving many to seek answers from journalists in the front of the building.
Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis visited the complex briefly at midmorning and left without taking questions.
A hazardous materials team arrived on the scene by late morning, and Arisme said those officials focused on Apartment 315, wearing masks and gloves when they entered.
“There is nothing indicating that there is anything in this building that is a cause for concern,’’ Agro said in a telephone interview.
She said grief counselors are being brought into the complex to speak with residents.
She said the victims appeared to be in their 50s; police said the first man seemed to be in his 60s.
Several people who live at the 119-unit complex called the woman who was rushed to the hospital Eileen.
“I know her very well,” said Bruce MacMasters, who lives several doors away from the woman,
Her hands are severely arthritic and the condition prevents her from doing many day-to-day tasks, MacMasters said.
“She is pretty much incapable of doing anything for herself; her fingers are severely arthritic.”
He said she had relatives in West Roxbury.
“She came to me always, dozens of times a day, to help her,” MacMasters said. “I ran to the store many times for her and took out trash. She knocked on my door last night at midnight, but I didn’t open it.”
John Paris, 56, a tenant who lives on the sixth floor, described the man found in the third-floor hallway as a “nice guy.”
Paris repeatedly referred to the man as “Mr. Kelly,” as at least two other residents did.
“Several days ago I was just walking up the street with him,” he said. “We were chatting about nothing in particular.”