Detectives arrested 16-year-old Marcell Dockery for allegedly starting a fire in an 18-story apartment building in Coney Island in April 2014. The fire severely injured NYPD officer Rosa Rodriguez, 36, and killed Dennis Guerra, 38, also an NYPD officer. Both officers were responding to 911 calls that a fire had started in a Coney Island high rise building. One civilian was also taken to the hospital for minor injuries.
According to investigators, Dockery admitted to setting a mattress in the hallway on fire with a lighter because he was “bored” and wanted some “excitement.” However, he told police that the fire got out of control and he wasn’t able to put it out. Although he stated that he tried banging on several doors to get residents out of the building, Dockery left the 13th floor hallway where the fire had started and left the building with other tenants. Dockery was charged with assault, arson and reckless endangerment. He was also charged with robbery and grand larceny after detectives uncovered that he had robbed a 60-year-old woman of $10 in March 2014. Dockery was also arrested for arson back in 2010.
Once the mattress fire had started, NYPD Housing Officers Rosa Rodriguez and Dennis Guerra responded immediately to the scene. According to NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, the two officers took the elevator to the 13th floor. However, when the elevator doors opened, they were overcome by heavy smoke. Bratton stated, “Fire Department personnel arrived at the building and made their way up to the 13th floor, where they located both police officers unconscious and unresponsive.” Firefighters then brought the officers downstairs where rescuers began to perform CPR.
Sean Foster, 40, a nearby resident who witnessed the rescue, said, “When they brought the first officer out, the male, they were pumping his chest. They saved him before they put him in the ambulance. The lady, they took her straight to the hospital. They weren’t pumping her chest. They just had the oxygen mask on her.”
The officers were taken to different local area hospitals, where they were treated for smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning. Rodriguez, a mother of four, was also treated for a burned esophagus. She was listed as being in critical condition. Guerra, a father a four, received blood transfusions to force the carbon monoxide from his body. However, a few days later he succumbed to his injuries and died. He had been an NYPD officer for eight years.
Commenting on the tragic fire, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he stands behind the officers’ families. He remarked, “It’s incredibly difficult work that these men and women do. And I can say this on behalf of all New Yorkers: Our hearts go out to these families, and we will stand by them.”
Website Resource: Coney Island fire leaves 2 cops critical; Teen charged, ABC News, April 8, 2014
Two NYPD cops critically injured, suspect in custody in Coney Island fire caused by burning mattress, NY Daily News, Mark Morales, Caitlin Nolan, Chelsia Rose Marcius, and Tina Moore, April 7, 2014