Reno, NV (January 5, 2024) – Brian Bandy, a Sun Valley man, will spend the rest of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole for his role in a deadly apartment fire that claimed two lives in July 2020. The Washoe County District Attorney’s Office announced the life sentence today, marking the culmination of a tragic saga that devastated the community.
Fire Engulfs Apartment Complex, Taking Lives and Leaving Many Injured
The fire broke out just after 5:30 a.m. on July 20, 2020, engulfing the eight-unit apartment complex located on the 300 block of Broadway Boulevard. Two residents, 51-year-old Diana Engstrom and 70-year-old Katherine White, perished in the flames. Firefighters battled the blaze heroically, rescuing 11 residents and transporting them to the hospital with injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to severe burns. Two other victims were treated on the scene.
Investigation Points to Bandy as Culprit, Motive Remains Unclear
Authorities quickly identified Bandy as a suspect, uncovering evidence linking him to the fire. The investigation revealed that Bandy owed money to a resident of the complex, and text messages between them indicated a heated dispute in the weeks leading up to the tragedy. While the exact motive remains unclear, the DA’s Office believes Bandy deliberately set the fire.
Heroic Neighbor Saves Lives Amidst the Chaos
As the flames raged, Raymond Hamilton, a resident living across the street, sprang into action. He alerted neighbors to the fire, pulled a man from a second-story window, and assisted in evacuating others. His wife, Joanne Huddleston, called 911, while Hamilton fearlessly risked his own safety to save lives. His actions served as a beacon of hope in the midst of the tragedy.
Justice Served, But Lives Lost Remain Forever Impacted
Bandy’s guilty plea and subsequent life sentence bring a measure of closure to the families of the victims and the Reno community. However, the tragedy serves as a stark reminder of the devastating consequences of arson and the heroism of ordinary citizens who step up in times of crisis.
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