Gaithersburg condo explosion resulted from resident's suicide: police

The explosion that rocked the Potomac Oaks Condominiums in Montgomery County on Wednesday was the result of a suicide, police confirm.

During a Friday evening news conference, Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones identified the body pulled from the rubble Thursday night as 36-year-old Juan Pablo Marshall Quizon. Jones said a medical examiner ruled his death a suicide by manner of smoke inhalation and thermal injury (burns).

The explosion happened at around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at 826 Quince Orchard Boulevard in Gaithersburg. Large plumes of smoke rose from the buildings where the blast was centered. Fire Chief Scott Goldstein confirmed gas fueled a fire, which they likely believe was not the cause of the explosion but more as a result of it.

Fire officials said buildings 826 and 828 suffered substantial damage in the explosion with two other buildings also impacted. Over a dozen families were displaced. At least 14 people were injured with 10 rushed to the hospital.

Chief Jones said Quizon had recently purchased unit #102 in the 826 building this past August and that those close to the 36-year-old had no idea he owned the owned.  

According to investigators, Quizon was reported missing by his mother about three hours after the explosion, at around 11:30 a.m. The report was not connected to the explosion at the time. He was also reported missing out of a family home that has a Rockville address. The home is located in the Derwood area.

On the first responder-radio dispatch recording site, OPENMHz, FOX 5 could hear the information being relayed to police after Quizon’s made the missing person report.

"… Says 36-year-old son suicidal and he left the house last night, not seen him since. Implied he has had enough. Lookout I have is mixed Asian-white … tan jacket dark pants, thin build, shoulder-length hair, name is Juan Pablo Quizon. Subject is depressed, anxious, possible OCD, left in a black Ford truck …" was the message shared over police radio.

Sources tell FOX 5 a note was left behind. Chef Jones would not go into those details, including when and where the note was found and what it said.

FOX 5 spoke with neighbors at Quizon's family's home address. Multiple neighbors described police as swarming the home and patrolling the area after the explosion. Neighbors told FOX 5 the 36-year-old kept to himself and described his mother as a very kind woman who did have issues with her son.

Chief Jones told reporters based on what the know, investigators do not believe Quizon intended to hurt others. Jones also affirmed this is still a criminal investigation, as Quizon would be held criminally responsible for the explosion had he lived.

Montgomery County Fire and EMS Chief, Scott Goldstein, confirmed a K9 did confirm a positive hit while searching for an accelerant. It’s not clear what accelerant was used. Goldstein said investigators did retrieve the gas appliances from the 36-year-old’s unit and they are now investigating how this suicide was carried out.

In total, 24 units were impacted. The Montgomery County Housing Partnership tells FOX 5 at least $62,000 was raised to help the families displaced. Checks are expected to start going out early next week to be shared among 25 families. 

Individual families also created GoFundMe accounts to also assist during this difficult time, with some families losing everything in this blast.

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Explosion at Potomac Oaks Condominiums in Gaithersburg

The Potomac Oaks Condominiums explosion is the second major apartment complex explosion in Montgomery County this year.

In March 2022, an explosion at the Friendly Garden Apartments on Lyttonsville Road in Silver Spring injured several people and displaced over 100 adults and children. That explosion was caused by a maintenance worker who accidentally cut a gas line.

In August 2016, an explosion killed seven people, including two children, and left many more injured at the Flower Branch apartments in Silver Spring. National Transportation Safety Board officials said a mercury service regulator that was not connected to its vent line was the source of a gas leak that led to that deadly explosion and fire.

Click here to learn more about the assistance efforts, and what you can do to help impacted residents.