NORTHGLENN, Colo. (CBS4)– Police in Northglenn said a father who trapped his children inside a burning home is facing attempted murder charges.
The children, a 5-year-old girl and a boy just under the age of two, remain in critical condition in Children’s Hospital in Aurora. The girl has burns that cover half of her body. The boy is being treated for severe smoke inhalation.
Family members told CBS4’s Stan Bush that the children’s mother, Rosalie Johnson, tried to prevent the assaults and was attacked in the process.
“She had blood running down her face, her eye was almost closed. She said he smashed her head against the wall,” said neighbor Jeanne Sparkman.
It all began with a possible domestic violence incident between Rosalie and her estranged husband, William Johnson early Thursday morning in Aurora.
The couple was sharing the home in the 11000 block of York Street in Northglenn as part of their separation agreement. Rosalie asked police to check on her children and then she rushed to the home.
Family members said when she arrived, Johnson, 27, dragged her from the car and assaulted her. He then returned to the home and barricaded himself inside. Officers said the fire erupted inside almost immediately after they arrived. Two officers tried to get inside but they were turned back because of the intense smoke inside.
“She’s screaming that he’s killing her children. That he set the fire. And that the children are locked inside,” said Sparkman. “She was just screaming, ‘He’s killed my children, all because I didn’t want to be with him.'”
“The female told police that Mr. Johnson was inside the residence assaulting his children. Officers forced entry into a barricaded front door after seeing a flash fire erupt. Officers attempted to rescue the occupants of the home, but were forced back by heavy smoke and inhalation,” Northglenn police spokesman Commander Jeremy Sloan said. “There was a heavy fortified or barricaded door. It looked like furniture was pushed behind the door.”
Firefighters had to try to get in the home and past furniture which had apparently been stacked up to block the door. They found Johnson and the two children unconscious. All three were rushed to the hospital.
Johnson is listed in critical condition. He remains in police custody in the hospital. Johnson is being investigated for two counts of attempted homicide, domestic violence and assault.
Two Northglenn police officers were also hospitalized with smoke inhalation after the firefight.