Rain poured down as officials investigated the suspicious deaths of an 18-year-old mother and her infant child Sunday morning.
Diamond Shelman, 18, and her 8-month-old son, Jeremiah Shelman, were found dead in a burning apartment Sunday morning, and the nature of their deaths and the fire are under investigation by detectives.
A firefighter was driving along 14th Street West on his way to work shortly before 7 a.m. Sunday when he noticed flames coming from a downstairs apartment at Avalon Square Apartments, 3506 14th St. W., according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
The firefighter called for help, and crews from Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue responded. The victims were found inside the apartment.
A homicide investigation started because Diamond Shelman’s injuries were not consistent with a fire, said Dave Bristow, spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
Officials on Sunday were waiting for the Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the causes of death.
The investigations into the deaths by detectives and the cause of the fire by the State Fire Marshal’s Office are ongoing. Authorities were still at the rainy scene as of Sunday afternoon.
Neighbors described a bustling scene of fire trucks and EMS crews early in the morning. By 11 a.m., the fire engines were gone but an ambulance and the sheriff’s mobile command unit were parked behind the crime-scene tape strung up around the building.
Gloria Harp lives in the neighboring building of the complex and said she usually feels safe, the worst thing that happens here is someone’s car getting towed. She cried as she learned Sunday morning’s victims were a young woman and her infant child.
“My heart goes out to (the family), wow, I didn’t know,” Harp said through tears. “That’s heartbreaking.”
Anyone with information on the incident should call the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at 941-747-3011.