Local News

Residents Credit Officer With Saving Lives

Posted March 15, 2007 4:08 p.m. EDT
Updated March 15, 2007 11:29 p.m. EDT

— An early morning fire at a southeast Raleigh triplex killed one man, but a police officer awakened several other residents to help them escape the flames.

Residents at 1113 Upchurch Street got a frightening wake-up call as fire trucks descended upon their apartments at about 4 a.m.

Sgt. M.A. McKee, a 19-year veteran of the Raleigh Police Department, smelled smoke while on routine patrol. He investigated, discovered smoke coming from an attic vent and went door-to-door to alertg tenants and evacuate the building.

Mikea Woody said she was able to get her four children and nephew out safely after being awakened by McKee.

“If that cop didn't knock on our door, all of us could have been gone right about now,” Woody said. “This is unusual for a cop just to come by. This just doesn't happen, not that time in the morning anyway. Nobody but God (would come by).”

Redell Jones said she grabbed her 4-year-old son, his birth certificate and some family photographs.

“I am so glad he was here. I want to tell him thank you so much for coming to my door,” Jones said. “We all owe him our lives, all of us.

McKee declined to be interviewed, saying through a police spokesman that he was "just doing his job."

“He is very grateful that he was down there at the right point, at the right time, to be able to do what he did,” Raleigh Police Department spokesman Jim Sughrue said.

Michael Jameson Gunter, 29, died at WakeMed after firefighters pulled him from the apartment in the triplex where the fire started, police said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, although the preliminary investigation points to the fire starting in Gunter's kitchen.

The owner of the property, Steve Edwards of E & E Management, said working smoke detectors were installed in each unit.