Body found in burned house may be homicide
BRIDGEPORT -- Before fire marshals found the body inside the charred home, it had not been a particularly remarkable Tuesday night in the neighborhood known as the Hollow.
Even the sound of nearby gunfire wasn't that startling to some residents.
Then police found a man shot in the head three blocks away -- and a possible link to the fire at Park Avenue and Worth Street.
Now detectives are investigating what could be Bridgeport's first homicide of the year,
For Chris Brown, a resident of the Hollow, the gunshots were not especially uncommon or remarkable. But about 10 minutes after he heard the two shots he noticed the fire.
"The fire was small; I just saw a ball of orange on the third floor,'' Brown said. "The worse it got was when stuff starting falling."
Firefighters responded to 1488-1490 Park near Worth just after 11 p.m. Tuesday for a third-floor fire.
About 30 minutes later, city police rushed to a Linen Avenue address three blocks away where a gunshot victim was reported.
There, officers found Robson Santos, 38, who had suffered a gunshot wound to his mouth, leaving him in serious but stable condition, police said Thursday.
Although a roommate of Santos' called police, investigators soon realized Santos may actually have been shot closer to the burning home, where they found a shell casing at the corner of Worth and Park.
The link between the fire and the shooting grew Wednesday, when state and local fire investigators equipped with a warrant began searching the burned building and found a body under debris.
Signs of trauma were apparent, police said.
"The investigation remains in its early stages and detectives are following leads but will await results from the autopsy to determine cause and manner of death," said police spokesman William Kaempffer. Police Capt. James Viadero said the body would be sent to the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner, where an autopsy would likely be performed Friday. "We have no idea on the cause of death, but are not ruling out foul play," Viadero said.
Kaempffer said there was evidence of a shooting at the fire scene, and that the time and proximity of the incidents may indicate a link.
Detectives have interviewed Santos and plan to again, Kaempffer said.
"He was shot in the mouth, so as you can imagine communication was difficult,'' he said.
Bridgeport detectives are being assisted by investigators from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
One state investigator brought a canine trained to sniff accelerants inside the building and emerged with a small piece of wood. He placed the wood on the sidewalk on the other side of Worth and had the dog sniff it. The investigator declined to comment.
Police have a tentative identification of the victim, but are not yet releasing his name. Detectives are investigating whether there are links between the dead man and Santos, Kaempffer said.