Arson suspected in fire at St. Paul ‘nightmare’ house where man was fatally shot a day earlier

A suspicious fire struck a home Sunday where a man was shot to death a day earlier in St. Paul, authorities said.

The blaze at the residence in the 800 block of E. Lawson Avenue, which has drawn a substantial amount of police attention this year, was being investigated as a possible arson, Fire Department personnel at the scene said.

A 37-year-old man showed up at the home about 2:20 a.m. Sunday while intoxicated and “attempted to enter the crime scene that was protected by crime scene tape and monitored by officers,” said Police Sgt. Mike Ernster.

The man was told by police to leave, but he sat down on the drive and defied the officers’ orders, Ernster said. Police arrested him and booked him in jail on suspicion of obstructing the legal process, a misdemeanor.

Police left the scene about 9 a.m. only to return about two hours with firefighters after “witnesses reported smoke and flames coming from the house,” the sergeant said. The blaze was extinguished, and no injuries were reported.

On Saturday, officers called to the scene about 4 p.m. and found a man suffering from a gunshot wound to his upper body. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene. The victim’s identity has yet to be released.

The death marked St. Paul’s 24th homicide of the year. No arrests have been announced.

Ernster said that the residence has been connected to 170 911 calls this year.

“They were everything from drug offenses to property crime calls to quality-of-life issues and disorderly conduct,” the department spokesman said.

Al Thompson, who lives nearby, said, “That house has been a nightmare to our neighborhood. We hear gunshots almost on a daily basis just from that address.

“This was going to be my kids’ bus stop if they were not distance learning. I am so glad I do not have to worry about that address or the kids playing at the park nearby.”

Homicide investigators were interviewing witnesses at police headquarters Saturday night. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 651-266-5650.

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