Man with knife confronts Phoenix apartment employee investigating possible fire

A man was booked into jail after he confronted an apartment employee with a knife after the employee forced entry into the man’s apartment unit when he saw smoke coming out of it, Phoenix police said.

Smoke from the fire displaced all 21 residents at the apartment complex at 1400 W. Vogel Ave. 

The incident happened around 7:30 a.m. Friday.

As officers evacuated nearby apartments, two men exited the apartment after the employee disarmed the resident, police said.

The resident, 41-year-old John Gopher, was taken into custody on suspicion of aggravated assault, police said.

They said the apartment employee was walking the property when he noticed smoke coming from the second-story unit. The employee forced entry and Gopher threatened him with a knife, police said. The employee grabbed the knife from him, leading to a cut on his hand, police said. 

Police continue to investigate as fire officials investigate the fire’s cause.

Phoenix fire Capt. Kenny Overton said smoke from the fire entered the attic space, rendering the complex unlivable for the night. The Red Cross is coordinating to find interim housing, he said.

The fire department transferred Gopher to the hospital and the apartment employee refused care, Overton said. 

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