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DEATH AT SANDY HOME NOW CALLED A HOMICIDE

Investigators consider the Thursday death of a Sandy man a homicide, but don't know yet if he died from the explosion that gutted his house, or from gunshots that punctuated the blast.

"The autopsy went on yesterday and they should have their results to us today," Sandy police Sgt. Craig Watson said.Police are also awaiting the findings of a federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms task force that investigated the blast and resulting fire.

"They do have some leads," Wat-son said.

The explosion, about 5:30 a.m. Thursday, destroyed the single-story house at the southwest corner of 400 East and Locust Street (8845 South) in the city's historic district. Neighbors awoke to the sounds of gunfire, the blast, then more popping sounds.

Sandy Police Chief Sam Dawson said investigators believe someone fired a gun from the middle of 400 East, just south of the Locust Street intersection. Several bullets hit the house, and at least two bullets struck the side of a house next door to the south, he said.

A woman and man were asleep inside the Locust Street house at the time of the explosion. The woman escaped with only minor injuries. The man's body was pulled from the burning house. Attempts to resuscitate him failed and he was later pronounced dead at Alta View Hospital.

Police have interviewed the woman, 20, but declined to release either her name or that of the man. She told neighbors she was from California and was visiting a friend at the house at the time of the blast. The woman also remembered someone throwing something inside the residence immediately before the explosion, a neighbor said.

The blast left the home's floor unstable, causing a lengthy delay in the police department's investigation. Crews from the city's public works department worked into the evening to put down new flooring and reinforce the structure so investigators could search for clues.

Neighbors who congregated outside the crime scene Thursday complained the house was a sore spot in an otherwise congenial neighborhood. They spoke of numerous cars visiting the house throughout the evening and night, a situation that caused some to label it a possible drug house. Others said they were suspicious of the house and its occupants since the site was remodeled to serve as a rental.

Yet, police calls to the address reflect nothing more than the typical complaints of all neighborhoods, Watson said.

"I actually pulled up the calls to the home and looked at them," he said. "There were no drug complaints at all. They were just normal police calls we get everyday in every neighborhood." If there was cause for additional concern, no one had notified police about it, he said.

"We'd been there before on a couple of party calls," he said. "But, to our knowledge, this is not an every night occurrence."