Police investigate death following an apartment fire

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Firefighters discovered a man dead, inside an apartment following a fire in Richmond's southside. This all began unfolding just after 7 a.m. Saturday in the Briarwood Court community on Cofer Road. That's between Hopkins Road and Jeff Davis Highway.

Police say shortly after, fire crews forced their way into the home, they found 78-year-old Walter J. Boone inside. Neighbors tell NBC12 he had lived in the community for several years.

As police tape blocked off a better portion of Cofer Road, neighbors searched for answers. They didn't want to be identified, but say an elderly man lived there alone.

"It's just shocking to wake up and see this," said one neighbor. "Whatever happened to him it's sad. He was really nice. He waved, he spoke, he would come around, walk around or whatever. Pretty much, he kept to himself."

The fire department says the flames were concentrated on the first floor in the living room near the front entrance.

"They kicked in the door and there was smoke everywhere. That's all I really saw, bunch of black smoke. You knew automatically that it wasn't good."

Just before 7:30 a.m., crews got the flames under control. It was then, shortly after, when they found the man in the same spot where the flames had been.

People grew suspicious when the crime scene unit, homicide detectives and arson investigators arrived. However, police say it's protocol, but not so normal for neighbors living here.

"You see it on TV but you don't think it's going to happen near your house then you walk up and there's tape everywhere," said the neighbor. "There's a family out there that has to go through a loss right before the holidays so that's going to be something hard to deal with."

Now, we're choosing not to release the name of the victim until police have notified his family. At this time, investigators don't suspect foul play. The medical examiner will determine the exact cause of death. In the meantime, police and fire crews will continue a joint investigation.

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