A Minneapolis man has been charged with one count of second-degree murder and a count of first-degree arson after he was accused of setting an apartment ablaze, killing one person and severely injuring another.
Marcus Dewayne Shanks, 30, was seen by a witness dousing the east stairwell of a Minneapolis apartment building at 1500 Park Avenue with lighter fluid at 10 p.m. Oct. 6, according to the criminal charge.
The witness, who lived in the building, told police she told Shanks to stop, but he responded, "No, everyone in the apartment is going to die."
The witness then saw Shanks light a match and throw it onto the area he had soaked in lighter fluid.
Royce Wayne James, 59, was in an apartment when the fire began and jumped from a window to escape the blaze. By the time police arrived, he had severe burns over most of his body. He died while at Hennepin County Medical Center.
A woman living with James also tried to escape the blaze. Police found her unconscious outside of the building, suffering from burns on her hands, feet and face.
According to the criminal charge, she is intubated at HCMC, has not regained consciousness, and is in critical condition.
The witness who saw Shanks set fire to the building on Oct. 6 told police she again saw him on Oct. 7 trying to gain access to another building in the neighborhood.
The officer who detained him said she smelled a strong smoke odor coming from Shanks. The witness then later identified Shanks as the man who set fire to her building.
Prosecutors said that if Shanks is convicted, they will seek an aggravated sentence.
James' is the second arson-related death in as many weeks in Minneapolis.