Jamel Martinez (pictured) allegedly set fire to his family apartment’s kitchen in Manhattan Saturday afternoon, and after firefighters arrived jumped from the roof of the building to his death
An 18-year-old suffering from mental illness died after plunging to his death from a Manhattan apartment building he allegedly set on fire.
Jamel Martinez reportedly started the blaze in the kitchen of his family’s 10th story apartment at the New York City Housing Authority’s East River Houses complex Saturday afternoon before jumping off the roof of the building, police told the New York Post.
Martinez had been released from Bellevue Hospital roughly a month ago after a struggle with depression, his father James White, told the outlet.
Roughly 80 firefighters responded to a call of a fire at the East 105th Street apartments at around 4.30pm, according to the Citizen App, and by around 5pm reported one person injured on the scene – later confirmed to be Martinez – who was soon pronounced dead.
By around 5.20pm, the fire was under control, the FDNY reported.
He said that amid the pressure of graduating high school and a struggle with drugs he believed his son was not ready to return to life on the outside.
‘This is my son who did this. This is my son,’ White, 53, who was on the scene of the fire Saturday afternoon, told the outlet.
‘He wasn’t supposed to leave Bellevue Hospital. I told Bellevue Hospital not to release him, take him to a program where he could get his mind right.’
Martinez’ family was not home at the time of the blaze, police sources told the New York Daily News.
He fled after firefighters arrived at the apartment, although it is not clear if he went directly to the roof.
Martinez reportedly hit a car after jumping from the building, and was pronounced dead on the scene. His father said he had been struggling with mental health issues lately
New York City firefighters responded to the blaze at the NYCHA’s East River Houses complex (pictured) around 4.30pm
White said his son had been struggling for some time with mental health issues, noting that he had been in the news recently after his family reported him missing.
Police issued a missing person’s report for Martinez on May 23, according to the Norwood News, but it is not clear when he was found.
‘He went through something where his mind just relapsed. He ran away from home,’ White said.
‘He needed help…people do not take this mental thing seriously,’ he said.
The fire began on the 10th story of the building, and was extinguished within roughly an hour
A neighbor, who was asleep with her daughter when the fire broke out, said the 10th floor became engulfed in smoke during the blaze.
‘All of a sudden, we couldn’t see,’ she told the Daily News. ‘There was smoke everywhere.’
Firefighters told them to stay put while they battled the fire, but they were able to escape without injury as soon as they could.
‘We got up and we ran because the apartment was filling up with smoke,’ she told the outlet. ‘We couldn’t breathe. We just ran.’
She said she was acquainted with Martinez.
‘He was a sweet kid. Respectable, decent, loving and caring. Just a beautiful kid,’
Witnesses said Martinez landed on top of a car.
Roughly 80 firefighters responded to the blaze, and Martinez was the only reported injury
‘I feel terrible,’ Rosemary Negron, 60, a resident of the building told the Post. ‘It was a kid. I don’t know what happened to him where he would do something like that.’
Another witness, a 12-year-old boy, said he heard a loud bang when he saw Martinez hit the car.
‘His mother was crying,’ the boy told the outlet. ‘I feel really sad.’
White said his son was interested in computers and technology before his struggle with depression.
‘He was a good kid,’ he told the Post. ‘He was a nice, warm sweet kid.’