Police Identify Suspect in Miami Building Fire

Police Identify Suspect in Miami Building Fire


Moments before a Miami apartment complex was engulfed on Monday morning in what the mayor called the worst fire in the city in 25 years, residents of the building heard loud noises that sounded like gunshots.

An arrest affidavit released Tuesday said that after hearing the sounds at around 8 a.m., a resident found an employee of the four-story building’s management company lying on the first floor, shot in the abdomen. The employee told him, in Spanish, that he had been shot by the occupant of Unit 307, the witness later told the police. The victim also said that he had seen an explosion after being shot.

That information helped officers track down and arrest a man who they say shot the management company employee and intentionally set fire to the complex, the Temple Court Apartments near downtown Miami. On Tuesday, the Police Department identified the suspect, who was arrested on Monday afternoon, as Juan Francisco Figueroa.

Mr. Figueroa, 73, was charged with attempted felony murder with a firearm, first-degree arson and displaying a firearm while committing a felony, according to the arrest affidavit. Mr. Figueroa was also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition as a felon. The Police Department said he had been convicted of second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault in 1992.

The affidavit identified the shooting victim as Feder Biotte. He was hospitalized on Monday in critical condition.

The authorities have not said what events might have led to the shooting, or specifically how they believe the devastating fire was ignited.

The three-alarm fire spread swiftly through the 57-unit apartment complex, prompting the emergency evacuation of 43 people, many of them older. Several people were rescued from apartment balconies.

It took firefighters around eight hours to put out the flames. One resident and three firefighters suffered from smoke inhalation and had to go to the hospital. It was unclear whether the heavily damaged building, which was more than a century old, would be salvageable.

Dozens of residents spent the night in a makeshift shelter. City officials said the property management company planned to put up the displaced tenants in a hotel for two weeks, beginning Tuesday night.

Shortly after hearing the loud sounds on Monday morning, a second witness told the police that he saw Mr. Figueroa running by and out of the building, a second arrest affidavit said. Officers identified Mr. Figueroa’s car as a maroon Honda Accord.

By early afternoon, they had tracked down the car and began to conduct surveillance. Some time later, Mr. Figueroa appeared on foot and got in the car. The police followed him, conducted a traffic stop, and arrested him just before 4 p.m., according to the second affidavit.

The police found a .38 Special-caliber revolver with five rounds in his right pocket, and three more rounds in his left pocket, the affidavit said.

“Mr. Figueroa advised he knew what he had done and expected to be in prison for the rest of his life,” the affidavit said.



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