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Teen Burns To Death In House Fire After ‘Police Started Throwing Gas Bombs’ In SWAT Standoff

Teen Burns To Death In House Fire After ‘Police Started Throwing Gas Bombs’ In SWAT Standoff

Fire authorities in Albuquerque are investigating what caused a fire that killed a 15-year-old kid while police were engaged in a standoff with a suspect in a Southeast Albuquerque neighborhood.

The Albuquerque Police Department said Qiaunt Kelley, 27, was wanted for armed carjacking, vehicle theft, and a probation violation. Kelley barricaded himself in the residence, and police said they used powder and smoke irritants after all other options were exhausted. Later, a fire broke out.

Kelley ran away from the house, but Brett Rosenau was found dead inside. According to preliminary autopsy results, the boy died from smoke inhalation. Protesters and residents blame Albuquerque Police for his death.

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The gadgets used to deliver irritants into the home may have ignited the fire, according to Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina.

“A young person, unfortunately, lost his life in our effort to track down and apprehend a dangerous criminal,” Medina said in a statement. “I understand that many individuals in our community are in pain right now, and I appreciate everyone’s patience as we conduct an extensive investigation into the tragedy.” If any of our activities contributed to his death inadvertently, we will take steps to ensure that this does not happen again. I’ve requested our Victim Services Unit to work with the family and support them at this difficult period.”

According to Elizabeth Fields of the Albuquerque Journal, her sister Sundra Coleman owns the property that was left in charred shambles following the July 6 confrontation. Rosenau was believed to have followed Kelley into the house. Fields stated that two young men were visiting her sister’s son when SWAT officers swarmed the house with guns drawn, ordered everyone out, and handcuffed many of her family.

“And then they started pulling off the windows, removing the doors, they had a machine that ripped up the tree, and so they started throwing gas bombs in there,” Fields explained, adding that “the whole house went up in flames.”

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According to Medina, the department’s Investigative Services Unit followed Kelley to the front yard of the house, where he was found with the boy working on a stolen motorcycle. Kelley was also wanted for interrogation in connection with the June 26 shooting murder of Leonard Fresquez, an officer-involved shooting on May 5, and a recent armed robbery being probed by Albuquerque police and federal law enforcement, according to authorities.

According to police, Kelley went into the house and shut himself inside, and Rosenau followed. SWAT officers allegedly sought to persuade Kelley to leave the house for several hours by making public service announcements and installing a phone in the house to communicate with Kelley and Rosenau.

To examine the residence and activate powder irritants, the agency utilized a drone and robots. Officials said a man believed to be Kelley entered the house through the back entrance and lay on his back, ignoring officers’ demands to stand up. Officers utilized a noise flash device to try to induce Kelley to comply, but he retreated back into the house and shut the door.

Kelley later escaped the house as a fire broke out. He was apprehended and transferred to a neighboring hospital with burn injuries. A dog was also killed in the fire. Medina stated that the boy came out of the house and returned “of his own free will.”

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Roseneau’s mother, a woman who identified herself as such, said she was “not intellectually, physically, emotionally, or financially prepared for the phone call” concerning her son’s death.

“As a mother, you never expect to be attending your child’s burial,” Amanda Lopez said on a fundraising website, appealing for donations to cover funeral costs.

Medina stated that the agency worked with the Community Safety Department to find the occupants of the home shelter for 90 days, food, diapers, and other assistance.

Medina stated that the SWAT team used several Flameless Tri-Chamber tear gas canisters and rounds of powder-based chemicals into the home for more than an hour before noticing the smoke. He claimed there have been reports of canisters lighting fires in other regions of the country, but they’re “intended to lessen the likelihood of causing a fire.”

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“It’s something we utilize a lot – in a lot of calls,” he remarked.

The inquiry, according to the Albuquerque Fire Department, will take two weeks. However, witnesses and demonstrators claim that the police let the boy die because they knew he was in the house before using the canisters to flush out the culprit. On July 10, one protestor hoisted a sign outside the University of New Mexico that read, “My question to APD. People told you there was a kid there. Why did you let him burn?”

According to Fields, the police department’s tactics were “overkill.”

“They did not save a life, and they burned down a family home that we will never be able to rebuild,” she said. “They said, ‘Well, we were trying to negotiate,’ it’s 2022! These are Black men that fear the police. You really thought you were going get them to come out the house?”

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