PD: Man’s death after house fire suspicious

Kent County

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Detectives are investigating the suspicious death of a man who was found inside a bedroom after a house fire in Kentwood.

Around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, firefighters were called to a house fire in the 4800 block of Poinsettia Avenue SE near 48th Street SE. When crews put out the flames, they discovered 53-year-old Rolando Pierre Jr. unresponsive inside a bedroom. Pierre was taken to a hospital, where he later died, police say.

Witnesses told 24 Hour News 8 it appeared he was dead before he was taken to the hospital.

“He was a sweet guy,” Karen Kibler said.

She lives in the neighborhood and her parents live directly across the street from Pierre’s home.

“All the time he was waving (at us) and (saying) ‘Hi, how are you,’” she said.

When she heard sirens Saturday afternoon, she worried about her parents. Her concerns didn’t vanish once she found out emergency crews were heading to Pierre’s house.

She said he was always pleasant and worked long hours as a taxi cab driver.

“It just- it’s shocking,” Kibler said.

“I never thought it would happen here or to my neighbor, but it can happen anywhere in any area really. It doesn’t matter if you have money, don’t have money, middle class, if you’re 90 years old or in your 30s,” she added.

Eleven-year old neighbor Zaya Simpson said she saw smoke ‘barreling’ from an upstairs window at Pierre’s house on Saturday.

“It was a lot happening at once. My brain was going crazy,” she said.

Her family lives next door. They watched as firefighters broke out windows and pulled out an air conditioning unit to try to contain the fire.

Then they saw Pierre brought out and put on a stretcher. He wasn’t moving.

It’s unclear what led to the fire.

Simpson’s family and other neighbors told 24 Hour News 8 that they usually see Pierre’s car heading to work daily. Simpson said she usually sees or hears the TV, but the family hadn’t noticed any movement for days leading up to the fire.

Pierre had one roommate, an adult male, according to neighbors.

A public records search shows Pierre has lived in Michigan since 2002. He previously lived in Tampa, Florida for five years.

Anyone with information in this case is encouraged to contact the Kentwood Police Department detectives at 616.656.6600 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.

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