A man loaded four propane tanks into his sedan and then slammed the vehicle into his girlfriend’s apartment building in Florida this week, killing himself in a fiery blaze that later ensued.
Investigators believe that 31-year-old Carl Philbert was upset with his former girlfriend, who was inside the Fort Pierce, Florida, apartment building at the time of the incident, the Daily Mail reports.
While police believe Philbert was trying to kill the woman, she and her family escaped through a back door unharmed, authorities said.
Aside from Philbert’s death, nobody else was injured in the blaze, although the eight units in the building sustained damaged.
News of what happened surprised at least one of Philbert’s friends, who described Philbert, an immigrant from Haiti, as an upstanding person.
“I’ve known Carl for like 7 years. I’ve never seen him snap,” Steph Dumornay told WPTV.
Dumornay said he wasn’t aware that Philbert and the ex-girlfriend were having relationship problems.
But officers had previously been called to the residence for domestic violence issues involving the pair, according to Fort Pierce police spokesman Ed Cunningham.
Authorities believe that Philbert showed up at the ex-girlfriend’s apartment on Tuesday morning because he didn’t like something inside, prompting an argument between the two.
Hours later, Philbert intentionally rammed his car into the building with three propane tanks in the back seat and one tank in the passenger seat, according to Cunningham.
Eileen Cuevas, the 26-year-old daughter of Philbert’s ex-girlfriend, told TC Palm that her mother was in the apartment’s front room when she saw Philbert’s car veering toward her.
“My mother was cooking. She saw him like coming full force at our living room, and she was trying to warn us as we were sitting on the couch, but it was too late and he had already come in and hit the window, and he drove through our living room,” Cuevas told TC Palm.
She added: “As soon as he came in through the window, I just jumped up and grabbed my son, ran out the back door with him,” Cuevas said. “I got my mother and my grandmother and everyone out of the house.”
Police body camera footage shows officers attempting to put out flames, but they had to eventually stand down. An explosion can later be heard in the video.
Residents of the apartment building frantically tried to save themselves and others in the midst of the explosion. One man helped an elderly woman escape.
The American Red Cross was called to assist five children and 13 adults who lived in the building.
[Feature Photo: St. Lucie County Fire District/Facebook]