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Police did welfare check 2 hours before dad is accused of trying to kill kids

10:18 PM, Feb 23, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Complicated story revolving around duplex fire

Video: Neighbors: Dad tried to kill 2 kids amid divorce

Duplex fire damages building (Anastasiya Bolton/9NEWS)

William "Bill" Johnson and his two young children, whose ages and names have not been released, are in critical condition.

Rosalie Johnson, who filed for divorce from her husband last month, was also injured in the early Thursday morning fire, along with two Northglenn Police officers who suffered smoke inhalation.

The crime unfolded in two cities early Thursday morning.

Just after 2 a.m., Aurora Police responded to a domestic violence call at an apartment complex on the 3600 block of South Dallas Street.

Aurora Police dispatch radio recordings paint the picture of an angry husband showing up and fighting with his soon-to-be ex wife.

"It was verbal. The male is in a black Mitsubishi. Drove the car on the grass of the building," one dispatcher said.

Aurora Police tell 9NEWS they are investigating the incident as a report of damaged property, while Northglenn police say Bill Johnson was involved in a hit-and-run.

9NEWS Crime and Justice Reporter Anastasiya Bolton has learned Johnson hit his soon to be ex wife's car. The damage to her back bumper and his front bumper was visible.

It is unclear if Bill Johnson drove through grass first and then hit the car, or the other way around.

Bill Johnson did have their two young kids in the car, and Rosalie Johnson asked officers to perform a welfare check.

Northglenn Police pulled Bill Johnson's car over 25 miles away from the first crime scene, in the Northglenn neighborhood where the couple lived.

"I can tell you that when our officers contacted the vehicle, all the children inside the car were safe," Northglenn Police Commander Jeremy Sloan said.

Sloan says officers had no choice but to let Bill Johnson go. Aurora Police were still investigating and said they had no charges on which to arrest him.

Rosalie Johnson later drove to their rented duplex in Northglenn.

Police say sometime after 4 a.m., her husband assaulted her, locked her out, and barricaded the door.

Neighbors found her on the front lawn crying for help.

"I [saw] my neighbor screaming, and she had on this light sweatshirt and like plaid pajamas [on.] I hear the police officer and the fire department say, 'There's children inside and he's barricaded. We can't get in; we're trying to get in.' I grab a blanket and run outside. And I hug her and, and she says, 'He's killing my children. He's killing my children. They're inside,'" Jeanne Sparkman, a neighbor, told 9NEWS.

Police officers broke down a barricaded door and tried to get to the children when a flash fire broke out on the stairwell of the home. Officers were pushed back by flames and smoke and had to retreat to call for back up.

"Supposedly we have a fire now inside the house. Police department did force entry. They can hear the kids screaming. We don't have the scene stable as of yet," an Adams County dispatcher said around 4:30 a.m.

When North Metro Fire arrived on the scene, they were able to find the family. The father and two children and one dog were on the second floor of the apartment, unconscious. Bill Johnson was one of those rescued by firefighters.

"[The mother] was just standing there, screaming at the top of her lungs. She's like 'he did it! He did it! He won't give me my kids! He's killing them! He's killing them! There's fire," Sparkman told 9NEWS.

Colorado Bureau of Investigation officers were called out to the scene of the fire to investigate the cause. They are checking for accelerants or any other material that may have caused the fire to spread and grow.

The two children were transported to Children's Hospital Colorado and are in critical condition.

An adult woman was taken to North Suburban Hospital.

"[The firefighters] brought the baby out. He was just laying there. You don't expect a 4-year-old to be still. You expect them to be moving. You expect to cry for their mom, [but] he was still," Sparkman told 9NEWS.

Williams was sent to St. Anthony's North Hospital where he is also listed in critical condition. Police say he is considered in custody and being investigated for two counts of attempted homicide, domestic violence and assault.

The dog - which is an American bulldog - is being treated at a 24-hour vet service.

The two police officers suffered from minor smoke inhalation and were treated and released from St. Anthony's North Hospital.

The landlord told 9NEWS they were ideal tenants. The landlord also says they would give gift cards to the two children every Christmas. The landlord also wants to remain anonymous.

The fire was fully extinguished at 4:46 a.m., and the duplex received moderate smoke and fire damage.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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