East Baltimore community responds after collapsed house kills 8-year-old boy

BALTIMORE - An explosion, a partial building collapse and a subsequent fire would claim the life of an 8-year-old boy, but it was Mary Shofner who initially recognized he had been trapped under the rubble.

"I was watching my girlfriend's children," she said. "I was bringing them home from school, and I got to the alley and that's when we heard the 'kaboom' and turned around and two little boys were behind me and one of the little boys I didn't see anymore and I kept telling them, 'There's a little boy up under there. There's a little boy up under that rubble."

The boy would later be identified as Troy Douglas, who was killed when an East Baltimore row home, located in n the 400 block of North Lakewood Ave. caught fire and collapsed Wednesday. He was a student at William Paca Elementary-Middle School.

Travis Moore and his brother ran out of a nearby row home and headed straight for the collapsed house.

"We saw the couch was on fire," Moore said. "We said, 'Is anybody in the house?'  The lady and the man that was in the house -- his face was burned up and the lady... I don't know what was wrong with her, but when they came out, they was like, 'There's nobody in the house,' but another lady who was out there said there was some kids that the [stuff] fell on.  So all of us started digging."

Within minutes, the structure was consumed by fire and the intense heat and flames forced them to abandon their rescue effort, but they claim when firefighters arrived, they refused to believe a child remained trapped on the sidewalk.

"When they came, we're telling them, 'The kid is right there,' but they're not trying to hear any of that.  They just acted like they wanted to put the cuffs on us," said Moore, "But they could have saved the child."

"My heart and my condolences and my family goes out to your families, but it hurts us too," said Moore's brother, Georgio Johnson, "Mind you, this is our hood, our block, but we still got to live here.  We got to go through it.  These kids go right there to school, man."

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