DETROIT (WWJ) – One body has been found as crews dig through a charred Detroit medical building, searching for two people unaccounted for after a shooting a fire.
Fire officials told family members at the scene that the body is that of a female. A medical examiner was called in to help identify the remains.
Detroit police said the floor of the Park Medical Centers building, on Grand River near West Grand Boulevard, had collapsed. Heavy machinery was used to remove debris, eventually allowing firefighters enter.
Earlier Tuesday, workers at the facility said a former maintenance worker came in shooting and took a female worker downstairs before setting the building ablaze.
“Initially, what we know is, is that it was an arson fire,” said Detroit police homicide inspector Dwane Blackmon. “It was started by an individual who we believe fired some shots prior to the fire being started.’
The victim is believed to be medical assistant Sharita Williams, whose mother, Antha Williams-Hill, spoke to reporters.
“The only thing I know is she was in a relationship with a man and she was trying to get out of it,” Williams-Hill said. “She went out and got a personal protection order against him, she changes her address, she changed her phone number and everything.”
Police and arson investigators have been interviewing people who worked in the building, which was completely gutted by flames.
Office manager Lanier Alfaro was at work when she learned there had been a shooting.
“We just tried to get out of the building as fast as possible because we had heard there were gunshots — and then with the fire we knew we had to get out,” Alfaro told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Pat Sweeting.
Tipsters calling WWJ said heavy smoke was moving over I-96, making it difficult for drivers to see and causing backups into the early afternoon.
Along with medical offices, the building also housed the offices of former boxing commissioner Dr. Stuart Kirchenbaum, who said a collection of Joe Louis memorabilia he kept from the sport likely was destroyed.
Police did not immediately confirm the identities of the two missing people.
Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 for the latest.