CO dad suspected of burning home with kids inside

NORTHGLENN, Colo. (AP) — A suburban Denver man is accused of setting his home on fire with his two children inside after assaulting his estranged wife Thursday, police said.

Firefighters rescued the father, William Johnson, 26, and his 5-year-old and 18-month-old children from their home in Northglenn. All were unconscious and taken to hospitals, where they were in critical condition, police said.

Johnson is considered to be in custody for investigation of attempted homicide, domestic violence and assault.

Sgt. Ron Haralson, a police spokesman, said officers were called to the home by Johnson's estranged wife at 4:20 a.m. after she arrived to check on the children following an earlier incident at her home in Aurora. The woman, whose identity hasn't been released, said Johnson assaulted her then ran inside the house.

It was unclear whether the fire started just before or just as officers arrived, Haralson said.

Stacey Mulligan, a spokeswoman for the North Metro Fire Rescue District, said firefighters found Johnson and his two children in their bedrooms on the second floor of the duplex. She said authorities were investigating how the fire started.

About 2 1/2 hours before the fire, the wife reported that Johnson was driving across the lawn of her home, Aurora police said. Police in Aurora investigated and, at their request, Northglenn officers intercepted Johnson, who had the two children in the car, on his way home. They let him go after seeing that the children were fine.

Haralson said the woman later decided to drive to Northglenn herself to check on her children.

He said police have been called to the Northglenn home before to stand by as the parents exchanged their children for visits, but there were no problems reported there.

Johnson's wife filed for divorce in January, KMGH-TV in Denver reported.

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