ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – An early morning fire damaged the same north St. Louis County home where a young mother was shot and killed less than 24 hours earlier. Now, investigators are trying to figure out if the two incidents are connected.
“We saw the flames engulfing the side of the roof or the side of the house,” said a neighbor who saw the fire on Dennis Drive around 5 a.m.
They both went outside, rushed to the home, and called 911. The man, who did not want to be identified, recorded cellphone video of the scene.
“We immediately ran over there, tried to see if any kids or anybody was in the house,” he said. “That’s when we noticed that there was a rag in the middle of the street that was still on fire.”
Another neighbor who also wanted to remain anonymous heard voices at the home shortly before the fire.
“I’m in the bathroom, I hear commotion. It’s like, ‘No! Stop, stop!’ Probably a couple of minutes later, I hear gunshots but it’s like the gunshots was running toward the next street like they were running away from this area,” the man said.
The couple who pounded on the home’s door found nobody in the house. But St. Louis County police said a 26-year-old man was badly burned and dropped off by someone at a local hospital.
It’s believed the man was injured at the house. He’s listed in critical condition.
Authorities said the fire started in a bedroom and was intentionally set.
Less than 24 hours earlier, 20-year-old Johanna Kimple was fatally shot inside the same house.
The shooting happened after a fight between Kimple’s brother and her boyfriend.
Javion Smith, 19, was charged with killing Kimple. Investigators said Smith was trying to shoot Kimple’s boyfriend but instead shot her.
“It’s like being in a bad dream that you can’t wake up from. It’s unbelievable,” said Quiana Rogers, Kimple’s mother. “She was too precious. She was worth more than how she ended. It just wasn’t right.”
Rogers said Smith is a longtime family friend, making the shooting all the more tragic.
Rogers also said Kimple and the man who police are calling her boyfriend had actually separated a couple of months ago and that she was only at the home because she needed a place to sleep.