ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Police Department says it may have been a tear gas canister thrown by officers that caused a house fire where a suspected 14-year-old was found dead inside. Chief Harold Medina says officers were searching for 27-year-old Qiaunt Kelley who had warrants out for his arrest when they tracked him to a neighborhood near Zuni and Wyoming. Chief Medina says officers closed in and Qiaunt and a friend, who they suspect was a 14-year-old ran into a home on San Joaquin.

KRQE News 13 spoke with a woman whose sister owns the home that burned. She claims it was APD who started the fire, something investigators are now looking into. “They began to throw fire grenades in there and then the next thing you know the house is completely burnt down,” said the woman.

The SWAT standoff with Kelley lasted until about 1 a.m. Thursday morning when officers tossed in a gas canister. Kelley came out after the fire started and was arrested. Police say the suspected 14-year-old with him was dead inside the home.

Chief Medina says they called Albuquerque Fire Rescue after more than an hour after throwing that tear gas. However, Medina said it took some time to put out the fire because of concerns for firefighter safety. “We got to remember that the fire department, they’re not police officers. They’re not equipped with the same protective gear as police officers. It does take it is a challenge for us to get them into an unresolved situation with an individual we believe is armed and dangerous,” said Medina.

Chief Medina said they’re investigating to see if a tear gas canister caused the blaze. They also fired rounds filled with pepper spray. “We’ve asked for the fire department arson unit to assist us in that investigation,” said Medina.

Police have not named the teen who died and in fact, they only estimate he is 14 years old. Medina says they got that information from people who lived in the area. APD also made it clear officers gave the suspects every chance to get out of the home before and during the fire. APD also emphasized no officers fired their guns.

Kelley had two warrants for his arrest, one is a federal probation violation for carjacking, the other is for stealing a car in Santa Fe.