Mysterious circumstances surround DC man's death following fire

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A 66-year-old Northeast D.C. man was found dead last Thursday following a fire inside his apartment. Now, D.C. Fire and EMS has ruled the blaze was intentionally set.

But that is not all. The landlord told FOX 5 relatives of the victim, Awlachew Ayele, contacted him last week to say drug dealers had broken into his second-floor apartment and were using the apartment as a base of operations.

The landlord also said he took Ayele to see the police and report what was going on. However, the very next day, the 66-year-old man was dead.

The landlord showed FOX 5 Ayele's apartment and we noticed a message written on the wall of the living room. Underneath the scribble, it says "YOU GOING DOWN AYELE."

Despite that message and the fact D.C. Fire and EMS said the fire was intentionally set, D.C. police are continuing to call the probe a death investigation. The medical examiner has not ruled on a cause and manner of death.

The landlord said in addition to Ayele losing his life, a dog was found dead in the rubble as well. A spokesman for the Humane Society confirmed they recovered the remains of a pit bull.

According to a timeline we have been able to establish, Ayele and his landlord went to see the police last Wednesday afternoon. A woman who lived below the victim said she heard a loud commotion coming from Ayele's apartment in the early morning hours last Thursday and smelled smoke. By 6:20 a.m., someone had called 911 to report the fire and firefighters were on the scene four minutes later.

The landlord provided FOX 5 with numerous emails he said he sent to D.C. police in recent months complaining about the drug activity at his building. He included responses from the police in which he was told officers had repeatedly gone by the building, but did not see anything out of the ordinary.

This is not the first time someone has complained that drug dealers had taken over an apartment inside the same building. Three years ago, court records show police raided a different apartment where a mental health consumer complained drug dealers had taken over his place. Police found cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.