NORTHGLENN, Colo. -- A dad is suspected of assaulting his estranged wife and their two kids, then setting their home on fire early Thursday morning.
Northglenn police said they were initially called by the Aurora Police Department at 2:30 a.m. to contact a hit-and-run suspect and check the well-being of two children.
Northglenn officers said they stopped the vehicle shortly thereafter and checked on the children, who were in the car at the time.
"During the contact, (the father) was cooperative and the children did not appear
to have been harmed," Northglenn police Sgt Ron Haralson said.
However, Aurora did not have any charges against the driver, 27-year-old William Idris Johnson, so Johnson was not detained, Northglenn police Commander Jeremy Sloan said.
At around 4:20 a.m. Northglenn officers responded to a domestic assault call at 110th Drive and York Street.
When they arrived, police said a woman waiting outside told them she had been assaulted by her estranged husband, Johnson. She said Johnson was inside the home assaulting their children.
A neighbor told 7NEWS she was awakened by a banging sound and thought it was the wind storm. Then she heard Johnson's wife screaming outside.
The neighbor, Jeanne Sparkman, said the wife was screaming, "He's trying to kill my kids!" and was holding her hand to a huge bump on her forehead.
"Her face ... her head ... her forehead was like two times the size of a normal forehead. She had blood running down the side of her face. Her eyes were practically closed. It was awful," said Sparkman.
Sparkman said Johnson's wife told her that Johnson had slammed her head into the wall.
Officers Force Their Way Through Barricade After Flash Fire
When police officers tried to contact Johnson at the front door, they determined the residence was on fire.
Two police officers forced their way past a barricaded front door after seeing a flash fire erupt inside the duplex. Northglenn fire said the front door of the home had been barricaded by furniture piled up against it.
The officers tried to rescue the occupants in the home, but were forced back by heavy smoke.
North Metro Fire Rescue firefighters responded around 4:23 a.m. and went into the duplex, where they said they found a large fire on the stairs leading to the second floor.
Firefighters managed to rescue Johnson, the two children and a dog from the second floor. All were unconscious. They said each person was in a separate bedroom when they were rescued.
"It was like a movie. Like you see people pulling the body … (the baby) and her arms were dangling," Sparkman said, crying.
Police did not say if the children had any other injuries.
Johnson, his 30-year-old wife, their 6-year-old girl and 20-month-old boy, and two police officers were taken to three different hospitals.
One child was transported to Children's Hospital. The other child was taken to North Suburban, along with the woman. Johnson and two Northglenn police officers were taken to St. Anthony's North. The police officers were treated for smoke inhalation and released.
The two children and Johnson are listed in critical condition.
Although in the hospital, Johnson is considered to be in custody and being investigated for two counts of attempted homicide, domestic violence and assault, Haralson said.
A dog was taken to a 24-hour veterinarian's office for treatment. Neighbors told 7NEWS another dog and a cat died in the fire.
North Metro Fire Rescue said there is moderate smoke and fire damage to the unit that caught fire. The person living in the second unit was able to return home.
Johnson's Wife Filed For Divorce On Jan 12
According to court documents, Johnson's wife had filed for divorce on Jan. 12.
A neighbor told 7NEWS that Johnson described himself as a stay-at-home dad because he loves taking care of his children.
Aurora Police Explain Initial Request For Welfare Check
Aurora police said they were called at 2:10 a.m. by Johnson's wife. She said her estranged husband drove through the grass of the apartment complex where she was currently living -- located on South Dallas Street and East Jefferson Place.
She described the vehicle as a black Mitsubishi and said her estranged husband may be returning to their home in Northglenn.
She requested officers conduct a welfare check on her children, Aurora police spokeswoman Cassidee Carlson said.
"Our officers arrived on scene shortly after the call was received and contacted a female party and began the investigation into the incident. The investigating officer was notified that Northglenn PD was in contact with the vehicle in question," Carlson said. "Northglenn officers spoke with our investigating officer and indicated that the male and children appeared unharmed. Furthermore, they indicated that they did not have any independent charges of their own. The APD officer advised Northglenn PD that she was in the early stages of her investigation into the incident that occurred in Aurora, but did not yet have charges."
The Aurora officer continued her investigation at the Aurora apartment complex, where she remained on scene until close to 4 a.m., Carlson said.
The officer told Johnson's wife that the report was going to remain open, she was going to try and contact Johnson and that she was going to consult with detectives first thing in the morning and would be in touch, Carlson said.
The officer left the address on South Dallas Street and attempted to call Johnson and left a message for him.
Less than 30 minutes later, Northglenn police received the 911 call from Johnson's wife who reported that she and her children were being abused and that she thought he was trying to kill the kids.
"The initial incident that occurred in Aurora remains an active and open case therefore further details of the case are not going to be released. Furthermore, the Aurora Police Department is fully cooperating with the Northglenn Police Department in their investigation with the unfortunate events that occurred in their city. Northglenn’s case will take precedence over the Aurora case due to the seriousness of the crime," Carlson said.
Northglenn police said they haven't any prior calls for service at that duplex before Thursday.
Johnson does not have a criminal record, according to a state background check.