JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The Golden Police Department is investigating after a man allegedly knocked a hole in his neighbor’s wall, stuck a gun through the hole and started a fire at a townhome on Friday morning.

It happened at the Table Mountain Townhomes Complex at 17250 W. Colfax Ave. around 3:24 a.m.

Police said they were called to the complex for reports of felony menacing. When they arrived, they were able to meet with the victim and shined a tactical light through the hole in the wall.

After that, officers went to the neighboring apartment where they believed the suspect was, and started knocking on the door. Within a few seconds, officers noticed an orange glow coming from the apartment and curtains that started melting.

Fire started in townhome

Officers said they started to back away from the apartment and that’s when they heard a boom and saw smoke and flames. Police started evacuating the complex and the Golden Fire Department arrived to put the fire out.

Firefighters said the fire engulfed the entire Building A in the complex.

No injuries have been reported. The American Red Cross is also on scene assisting displaced residents with shelter.

Police said there have been no arrests made, and the individual associated with unit 103, where the fire began, was not found in the apartment and has not been successfully contacted yet by authorities.

Person of interest

A person of interest has been identified by police as James Gambrell Jr., 48, in relation to the investigation.

He is identified as:

  • White male
  • 5 feet 8 inches tall
  • 270 pounds
  • Brown hair
  • Brown Eyes

Police said Gambrell has military experience and may be highly paranoid. He is also known to carry firearms and should be considered armed. If the public sees Gambrell, they are asked to avoid him and to call 911 immediately.

Colfax Avenue was closed in both directions for a few hours but has since reopened. Police are asking people to avoid the area while they investigate.

Fire forced ‘fight or flight’ as neighbors escape

The man who lived next door to where the fire started spoke with FOX31 and said he knew he was in danger and had to evacuate.

“Fight or flight get the hell out of dodge. Run. It was a big enough gun that it’s going to go through the drywall and the doors to run for my life,” Shaun Todd said.

Todd provided FOX31 with recordings of knocking sounds that had been coming from next door for three or four days.

Another neighbor described the damage to their own wall.

He said they saw a barrel “sticking through the hole (in the wall). I saw him pulling the drywall and got the hammer and was breaking through our wall,” townhome resident James Blea said. An entire building was damaged by the fire.

“Our whole life is gone. It’s sad that the quietest neighbor, the best neighbor, can be the worst neighbor at the same time,” townhome resident Leticia DeHerrera said.

Many escaped with just a few of their belongings.

“We were lucky to get out of there when we did,” townhome resident Laura Mounts said.

Late into Friday evening, police said an extensive search has been using drones, and K-9 officers and deputies from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office are involved.

Investigators believe Gambrell was in the apartment unit and may have escaped through a back door after the fire was sent and officers knocked on the door.