A lot can change in 15 minutes.
Just ask Octavius Wallace.
“I had just spoken to him when I came in after work,” Wallace said of the security guard residents in the White Plains YMCA believe was killed behind his lobby desk early Saturday.
“We spoke about how hard it was working overnight. He let me go upstairs and said I didn't have to swipe my card. He just told me to go upstairs and get some rest,” Wallace said.
That conversation took place at about 3:30 a.m. Nearly 15 minutes later, Wallace said he heard a explosion from his third-floor room, warnings of fire and screams of another man on fire a few rooms down the hall.
About 60 residents of the YMCA on 250 Mamaroneck Ave. were sent to the White Plains Senior Center at 65 Mitchell Pl. after a fire ignited on third floor of their home Saturday morning. The call came in at about 4 a.m. on the third floor of the building, according to officials.
White Plains Police Commissioner David Chong told News 12 that one body was discovered in the room after the fire was extinguished and another body was found in the building's lobby, behind the front counter. Chong also told the Journal News that the fire is being investigated as a possible homicide.
Officials from the American Red Cross said residents will have to wait until at least Sunday to retrieve their belongings. They also said that there are 50 additional YMCA residents who are outstanding and have not made contact since this morning’s fire.
“It’s a long weekend, so a lot of people aren’t here,” said Abigail Adams, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross for Greater New York Region.
Adams said the YMCA has the capacity to house 110 people. According to the YMCA’s Web site, the people can rent long-term for prices ranging from $145 to $185 a week and short-term for $70 a night.
Although there have been reports concerning the nature of the fire and the building employees death, police had yet to make statement to the White Plains Patch as of Saturday evening.
Wallace said he was aware of the concerns some of the other residents had with the man who died in the third floor apartment building, but did not know him well.
“Everyone is saying things about this dude, but these are things I don’t really know about because they happened before I even got here,” Wallace said. “Even though I had a funny first impression of the guy, I still don’t have much of an opinion.”
But Wallace said he had a cordial relationship with the security guard, who he described as elderly.
“He seemed too kind to do anything,” Wallace said. “He just seemed cool. Like someone you could talk too.”The section of Mamaroneck Avenue where the YMCA is located, between Maple and Carhart avenues, was closed while officials investigated the scene. That section of Mamaroneck Avenue has since been reopened to car traffic, but the block was closed off to pedestrian traffic Saturday.