Police were looking for a 26-year-old man suspected of firebombing a house in East Baltimore early Saturday, starting a blaze that killed two teens and injured six people, including two children.
Antonio Wright was identified as "Public Enemy No. 1" on Saturday night for his alleged role in the blaze in a Johnston Square rowhouse, which police said appears to be linked to a shooting two days earlier.
Investigators said they believe Wright threw two Molotov cocktails into the building at 1233 Greenmount Ave. in the Johnston Square neighborhood, leaving eight people trapped inside. Detectives identified him as a suspect after interviewing witnesses, following tips and reviewing evidence at the scene, police said.
"The individuals inside the home were apparently targeted," police spokesman T.J. Smith said earlier Saturday. "It seems quite obvious at this point that the fire was deliberately set."
About 10:45 p.m. Thursday, police responded to the same block and found an 18-year-old man suffering from a gunshot wound to the groin.
A preliminary investigation showed the man and his family were going into a home when a masked gunman came out of an alley and opened fire before fleeing, police said. The wounded man ran for safety into the rowhouse that was the scene of Saturday's fire.
"There are psycho predators who are out there killing people and who have to be held accountable," Smith said.
"They went under cover of darkness while a family was in their home sleeping and lit a fire. They could potentially have killed eight people."
Fire Department Capt. Mike Roth said a dog brought to the scene Saturday detected the presence of a chemical often found in accelerants.
By the time firefighters reached the second floor of the burning building, he said, two male victims — about 17 or 18 years old — were already dead.
A 20-year-old woman who attempted to flee the flames by leaping about 30 feet from a third-floor window to the sidewalk below suffered life-threatening injuries, police said.
Five other people — two boys ages 4 and 11, two girls ages 16 and 17, and a 38-year-old woman — escaped the fire and were being treated at area hospitals; they were expected to survive, Fire Department spokeswoman Blair Adams said.
Adams did not confirm any of the victims' identities.
The fire broke out at 4:57 a.m. on the ground floor, officials said, and within minutes the whole building was engulfed in flames.
About a dozen firetrucks responded to the single-alarm fire, which was brought under control by 5:20 a.m., Roth said.
The fire did not spread to adjoining buildings.
"I don't like it that children were living there," said a neighbor, Charles Chapman, 73. "They don't deserve this. They didn't do nothing wrong."
Anyone with information about Wright's whereabouts was asked to call 911 or text a tip to 443-902-4824.
Johnston Square resident Bruce Brown said he was listening to the radio Saturday morning in his apartment when he learned that a fire had killed two of his neighbors just hours earlier. He went outdoors to pay his respects.
"They didn't have to die like that," he said. "It's a hell of a way to go."
Mayor Catherine Pugh arrived at the scene Saturday morning.
"Any death is heartbreaking," she said. "We live day by day. I hope that all of Baltimore prays for the victims, for their families and for our city."
In September, eight people — including a 3-year-old girl — were shot in the 700 block of E. Preston St., a block away from where the fire occurred Saturday morning.
Police said that shooting was an act of retaliation for a Labor Day shooting that left one person dead. One arrest was made in that case, according to police.