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Arrest made in shooting, massive Miami apartment fire that displaced more than 40 residents

Police: Man who shot apartment employee started massive Miami apartment fire
Police: Man who shot apartment employee started massive Miami apartment fire 03:28

MIAMI - Miami Police announced the arrest of a 73-year-old man accused of the shooting of another man and starting a massive fire at a Miami apartment complex that displaced more than 40 residents on Monday morning. 

Miami police said they were called to the Temple Court Apartments complex at 431 NW 3rd Street and found a man on the third floor who had been shot. He was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

According to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez calls about the fire came in around 8:15 a.m. 

Police: Man who shot apartment employee started massive Miami apartment fire 03:28

"We got several calls referencing a fire at this location. We arrived on the scene, we found that one person had been shot. That person was transported to JMH (Jackson Memorial Hospital). At the same time, our firefighters responded to this fire and saw that this fire was escalating in intensity," said Suarez.

The mayor said this was the first "Three-alarm fire in 25 years." A three-alarm fire means that three separate fire stations responded to the blaze. 

In addition to the person who was shot, 4 others required medical assistance. A Miami Fire Rescue official said three firefighters required hospitalization and one resident had to be treated for smoke inhalation. 

Two of those firefighters have since been released from the hospital. 

Authorities said over 40 mostly elderly residents were rescued from the blaze. 

Man accused in shooting at Miami apartment building, setting fire to it 02:52

On Monday afternoon, law enforcement officials told CBS News Miami a suspect had been taken into custody, and that he had been arrested in Allapattah. He was identified as Juan Francisco Figueroa. 

Sources say Figueroa got into an argument with an employee at the Temple Court Apartments, shot him, and then started the fire. 

That employee was identified as Feder Biotte, 31, on Monday evening. 

Figueroa has been charged with attempted murder and first-degree arson.   

More than 30 fire crews were called in to battle the massive apartment fire.  CBS News Miami

Miami Fire Rescue said that when they arrived they found heavy smoke and flames coming from a third-floor window of the building, which is four stories, has more than 40 units, and is near downtown Miami.  

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez talks about the fire at an apartment building in Miami 01:42

"When we first arrived we found heavy smoke and flames coming from a third-floor window. As we started to enter into the building, we saw that it was occupied and we saw the flames starting to move swiftly throughout the floor. Our focus was trying to get everybody out as well as try to contain the fire," said Miami Fire Rescue Captain Ignatius Carroll.

At least 30 people were rescued from the building, including many elderly who were in wheelchairs. One person was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation, according to Miami Fire Rescue.

"The fire started rising, the first floor, the second floor, all the way up to the fourth floor. We had firefighters come up for us so we could get down the stairs. We couldn't get down the ladder because we had someone in a wheelchair," said a man who lives in the building.

Massive fire at Miami apartment building where a man was found shot 14:16

People who live in the building said they heard explosions as they made their way to safety. Carroll said they evacuated as many people as possible out of the complex. He said the building has a common attic which allows the fire to spread. More than 40 crews were called in to help battle the blaze.

"Right now we are just trying to get better control so it doesn't spread to any of the other buildings," said Carroll. "It's a very stubborn fire that is spreading throughout the building which obviously makes it very difficult to reach when you're doing a defensive attack. What's happening is that the fire is spreading into areas that are not being addressed by any water or fire hoses."  

Carroll said it was a complex fire to fight.

"The challenging part is you can't see anything but also you start to have compromising of the floors. We understand that probably the third-floor area was collapsing as a result, so safety is our number one priority," said Carroll.

The building has a lot of wood infrastructure, which fueled the blaze. Carroll said there's also limited access to the sides of the building so it was difficult getting their trucks into optimal position.

A cooling station was set up nearby to help the fire crews. Three firefighters were taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion, they were listed as stable.  

A reunification center has been set up at the community center at Jose Marti Park for family and friends to contact loved ones who live in the building.

On Monday afternoon Atlantic Housing Management released the following statement:

"We are very saddened to confirm that this morning, June 10, 2024, one of our Temple Court employees was shot and taken to a nearby hospital where he is currently being treated. Two buildings also experienced a fire and firefighters are actively working to put it out. We are still determining the cause of these events, and we are checking for other injuries. Police are investigating, and we will help in whatever ways we can. We are working with the Red Cross, which has brought drinks and snacks to help our displaced residents. We are also working to provide meals and a place to stay for those who have been affected. We will update as we have more information. We are grieved by all that has happened today, and our thoughts and prayers are with our team member and his family and residents of the Temple Court community." 

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