Police said two men found dead in a burned-out East Brooklyn apartment on Friday were killed in a murder-suicide and the blaze that gutted the complex was intentionally set.
The men have been identified as Wayne Harbold, 50, and Harley Roberge, 40. Both lived together at the old Tiffany mill complex at 182 South Main Street in Brooklyn, according police.
Authorities said one was found in the living room with several gunshot wounds and the other died in the kitchen of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Detectives from the State Police Fire and Explosion Unit have deemed the fire arson.
Investigators believe the fire started in the locked apartment where the two men died, but police haven't said who pulled the trigger or lit the blaze.
Michael Gaugh, who lived across the hallway from the apartment where the violence unfolded, was home at the time and said the gunshots came first.
"We were sitting in the living room and we heard two muffled bangs. I wouldn't say, the way it sounded, you wouldn't think gunshots at first," Gaugh said. "Now that I found out exactly what happened, that's probably what it was, the beginning of everything."
When smoke began to emanate from the apartment, Gaugh went door-to-door in an effort to rouse his neighbors, many of whom worked third-shift jobs.
"I tried banging and kicking on Wayne's door some more and that's when I noticed some serious black smoke coming out of the door," he said. "I put my hand on the door and it was hot to the touch."
The smoke and fire forced him outside, where he said more gunshots rang out as fire caused hundreds of rounds of ammunition to explode inside Harbold and Roberge's apartment.
"As we were outside, we started hearing the gunshots going off, live ammunition, which was blowing out the windows before the fire even came through," he recalled. "There were people actually hiding behind cars because of the bullets coming through the windows."
Days after the blaze, Gaugh displayed shell casings that still littered the apartment floor.
"It was like a grenade went off and shrapnel everywhere, bullet holes in the walls, some right back into the brick," he explained. "It was like machine guns going off."
Residents described Harbold as a friendly neighbor who didn't mind lending a hand. Despite the fact that Harbold and Roberge lived together in the complex for several years, no one could speak to Roberge's character because no one really knew him.
Building owner Jim Dandeneau said the historic facility, which dates back to 1820, contains seven apartments and suffered heavy damage. The blaze displaced a total of 16 people. With help from the Red Cross, many have been staying in local hotels while they try to salvage what's left.
Dandeneau said he plans to set up the Tiffany Building Victims' Fund at Putnam Bank on Wednesday to raise money for tenants who lost everything. Checks can be mailed to the following address:
Tiffany Building Victims' Fund
c/o Putnam Bank
40 Main Street
Putnam, CT 06260
Photo Credit: Karl Kuhn Jr./Legacy.com