PHOENIX — A man suspected of starting a Phoenix house fire that led to a dramatic rescue of a mother and her two young children has been found dead in Las Vegas, Phoenix police said Tuesday.
The suspect, identified as Nathaniel Astle, 32, was being sought by Phoenix police, who held a news conference Tuesday morning to announce they had identified him as a suspect.
Several hours later, Las Vegas police contacted Phoenix police with the news that Astle had been found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump said.
Astle was identified after police learned that a convertible black sports car registered to him was seen driving in the neighborhood the night before Monday morning's fire and again after the fire began.
Investigators said they believe Astle broke into a home and lit it on fire, Crump said.
Patrol officers backed up an SUV near the balcony and stood on top of it to save the 26-year-old mother and her two children.
Astle was targeting a woman who he had been infatuated with and tried to harm in the past, Crump said. He added that Astle believed the woman might live at the home, but it had been rented by another family.
Astle's parents reported him missing to police Tuesday because they were concerned for his safety, Crump said.
Astle's parents provided police and investigators with their son's journal where he expressed his intent to harm the unnamed woman, Crump said.
Detectives are currently working with Las Vegas authorities to further investigate the incident, Crump said.