Chesterfield police ID man found dead outside burning house

Chesterfield police ID man found dead outside burning house
2-alarm house fire in the 3400 block of North Street (Source: NBC12)

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - The Chesterfield Police Department has identified a 44-year-old man who was found dead on Feb. 22 outside a burning home.

Chesterfield police initially responded to a house in the 3400 block of North Street for a welfare check. Once they arrived on the scene, they saw a man run to the back of the house.

Shortly afterward, a fire started and fire crews arrived on the scene to battle the blaze, which was upgraded to a two-alarm fire.

It took fire crews 45 minutes to an hour to put the fire out. Shortly thereafter, a man - James W. Smith Jr. - was found at the back of the home, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police said they did not see anyone else at the home.

Neighbors were taking their children to Ettrick Elementary and said they could smell smoke, hear popping and crackling, and see the home engulfed in flames.

The incident caused the school to go on lock down during the initial investigation.

Police say the incident remains under investigation.

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