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Feb. 5, 2023

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Vancouver police investigating fatal apartment fire as murder-suicide

Two men were found dead in the Maplewood neighborhood fire; neighbors reported hearing gunfire

By , Columbian staff reporter

Vancouver police are now investigating a June 25 apartment fire, in which two men were found dead, as a murder-suicide.

There are no outstanding suspects, the Vancouver Police Department said in a news release Thursday. The incident was previously under investigation as a murder and arson.

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office will release the identities and cause and manner of death for the two men once identification is confirmed, according to the news release.

Police were dispatched at about 12:30 a.m. to 2904 E. 16th St., Unit B, in the Maplewood neighborhood, after several callers reported hearing gunshots.

A downstairs neighbor said she believed the shooting occurred in Unit B. The 911 dispatcher heard what she believed were additional gunshots while taking the call. The neighbor then reported smoke coming from the unit, and she said she and her boyfriend were evacuating their apartment, according to a search warrant affidavit filed last week.

The Vancouver Fire Department arrived within minutes to find heavy smoke coming from the front and back of the second-story unit, and a second alarm was requested. Crews had the fire out within 30 minutes but remained on scene for several hours.

While extinguishing the blaze, firefighters found a man dead in the living room and another man dead in a rear bedroom, the affidavit states.

Fire personnel said it appeared both men had suffered gunshot wounds to the head. A firearm was located near the body in the bedroom, according to the affidavit.

A caretaker for the unit’s primary occupant told investigators she saw him about two hours before the fire. She said the man had been subleasing his apartment for about six months to a roommate, who potentially had mental health issues. The client recently told her his roommate had become threatening toward him and talked about killing people, the affidavit says.

She said the two men “had been arguing more lately and indicated that the roommate relationship had deteriorated greatly over the last few days,” the affidavit reads.