A 37-year-old man was shot to death and a woman was injured Tuesday in a three-story apartment building on Harvard Street in Dorchester, police said. When officers arrived, there was a fire in the first-floor kitchen, and the injured woman rushed out calling for help.
“There are a lot of unknowns here,” Police Commissioner William B. Evans said at a brief news conference outside 332 Harvard St. Police did not release information about suspects, and Evans said investigators were still trying to determine if the fire was deliberately set.
While authorities provided few details about the fire, witnesses described a chaotic scene that unfolded just before 11:30 a.m.
Ashton Marshall, 25, said he saw smoke coming from the building and saw a 19- or 20-year-old man shouting “Fire!” from the third floor, saying he and a baby were trapped inside.
“He was out the window, screaming,” Marshall said.
Marshall called 911. He said a cable company worker doing a job nearby also called the emergency line. Firefighters arrived quickly, Marshall said.
Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said the fire was extinguished swiftly.
Evans said the man’s body was discovered on the first floor. Neighbors said the man and woman were a couple. Officials did not release their names.
The 34-year-old woman had an injury that appeared to be a gunshot wound, Evans said, but it was so minor officials were not able to determine with certainty what caused it.
The woman was taken to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, he said, and was being questioned by homicide detectives.
Down the street from the home Tuesday morning, a woman cried as she stared at her phone, waiting for news about her cousin and aunt. Both lived in the building, she said, but she hadn’t gotten word about them. The longer she didn’t hear, the more she worried.
“I have no idea,” she said, shaking her head. She declined to give her name, and it was not clear if her relatives were involved in the violent episode.
Neighbors said the daytime attack was unsettling, saying they couldn’t remember something like this happening before.
“Right in my backyard,” one woman said. “I can’t believe it.”
Later in the day, school buses rolled down Harvard Street, dropping children off at the curb. One little girl leapt into her mother’s arms, then turned to wave good-bye to her friends. As she and her parents walked her past the house, where police and television cameras gathered, the girl asked what was going on. “Nothing, sweetie,” her mother said, holding her hand down the crowded sidewalk.