STOCKTON — Police announced Thursday they have classified the death of a 51-year-old man in a suspicious mid-January downtown fire as a homicide.
Officer Joe Silva, a spokesman for the Stockton Police Department, said test results led to the classification but declined to provide additional details.
“That’s all we can say at this point,” Silva said.
Johnny Paul Dougherty died in the blaze Jan. 16 in the fire in an apartment building at 216 E. Weber Ave. Firefighters rescued as many as 15 other residents.
The first firefighters who made it upstairs that day discovered Dougherty deceased in a smoky, burning hallway. Officials did not release the cause of Dougherty’s death at the time.
Two other building residents reportedly required hospitalization following the fire.
In the fire’s immediate aftermath, Silva stopped short of calling it a homicide investigation, instead referring to it as a “suspicious death investigation.”
Residents of the building had been ordered two weeks before the fire to vacate the building because of alleged violations being investigated by the city’s code enforcement agency.
Silva, who represents Code Enforcement, said the residents had been ordered to vacate based on the presence of roaches and a number of inoperable heaters.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Stockton Police Department at (209) 937-8377, the Investigations Unit at (209) 937-8323 or Crime Stoppers at (209) 946-0600. Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards up to $10,000. Callers can remain anonymous.
Cellphone users can text information to 274637 (CRIMES) by entering the keyword “TIPSPD” followed by their tip….
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