apartment explosion

New Details Released in Shooting Police Say Led to Apartment Gas Leak, Explosion

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A Dallas man is in jail, facing several charges in connection with that gas explosion at the Highland Hills apartment complex last month. Eight people were hurt including four firefighters and many more lost their homes and prized possessions.

Court documents reveal new details in the arrest of a man accused of causing a gas leak that then led to an explosion at the Highland Hills apartment complex on Sept. 29.

Phillip Dankins is currently in the Dallas County Jail on a $450,000 bond.

The 28-year-old faces several charges, including seven counts of deadly conduct.

The blast injured eight people, including four Dallas firefighters and displaced 250 people.

Many residents are still struggling to recover and move forward after being forced from their homes, many permanently.

“At times it gets to me, but I’m trying to stay focused for me and my kids’ sake,” said resident Chritina Hernton.

Hernton says she moved to Dallas from Chicago in June and says she has seen Dankins around the complex.

“I’ve seen him around the complex and it was just always 'hello, goodbye,' nothing major,” she said. “For that to come out and say that he was the reason for it, it’s very shocking.”

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the incident stemmed from an argument between Dankins and his baby’s mother the day before the explosion.

A neighbor allowed the woman and baby to enter his apartment unit, hoping to offer protection.

Dankins is accused of pulling a gun on the man and woman, though he later left.

The warrant states Dankins returned several hours later and ‘shot several rounds into the neighbor’s front door and side windows’ and that ‘one of the bullets went through the hose behind the oven, causing a gas leak’ that grew overnight.

The following morning, Dallas firefighters were called to investigate the smell of natural gas and a possible leak.

As maintenance crews and firefighters tried investigating the smell, the building exploded.

Dallas Fire-Rescue says ‘an unknown source’ ignited the highly concentrated gas fumes.

Four firefighters were injured, including Pauline Perez who was inside the unit during the explosion.

She was thrown 30 feet and suffered third-degree burns, according to the court documents.

On the day of the explosion, several residents told NBC 5 about a shooting the previous night.

Witnesses also told police, fire and Atmos officials about the shooting.

Investigators spent days combing through the rubble of the building that was torn down following the explosion.

NBC 5 was there was fire investigators pulled at least one stove from the debris, focusing heavily on the appliance and taking several photographs of it.

The documents also state that a neighbor walking to work early on Sept. 29, found several bullet casings on the ground near the building in question and picked one casing up and later turned it over to police.

Police arrested the convicted felon in Mesquite on Oct. 2, days after the explosion, on a family violence warrant.

They reportedly found a Ruger handgun in Dankins' possession which was later matched to casings found at the site of the explosion.

They also reportedly found drugs, including crack cocaine in his possession.

Dankins allegedly agreed to speak with police and recounted the same story as at least one other witness about the incident the day before the explosion.

He was still in jail on Tuesday when police filed new charges against him, in connection to the explosion.