The man accused of shooting into a Dallas apartment complex and causing an explosion in 2021 has been sentenced to 12 years in jail.
The judge told NBC 5 that Phillip Dankins pleaded guilty Wednesday to firing a gun at the Highland Hills apartments. One of the bullets ruptured a natural gas line that filled a unit with flammable gas.
Sometime after, residents began smelling the gas and called Dallas Fire-Rescue to investigate. As firefighters searched buildings, one of them exploded.
Three firefighters, Capt. Christopher Gadomski, Engineer Ronald Hall, and Officer Pauline Perez were severely burned and permanently injured in the explosion. A fourth firefighter, Officer Andrew Curtis, was also injured that day but suffered only minor injuries. Four residents also suffered minor injuries related to the blast.
Gadomski and Hall returned to work a year after the explosion, in September 2022. DFR told NBC 5 Thursday that Perez has also resumed actively working with the department but that the nature and severity of her injuries limit her ability to work as a fire rescue officer and that she is working in a staff officer position. She is still undergoing therapy for her injuries.
Resident Tammie Cathcart told NBC 5 in September 2021 that she witnessed the explosion moments after she was warned by firefighters that they were investigating a gas leak.
“As he got to the window, he said, ‘Nobody go in because I smell gas.’ As soon as he tried to lift up the window it just blew,” Cathcart said. “Bodies was flying everywhere.”
The explosion caused a two-story building to partially collapse. Windows on adjacent buildings were blown out and bricks from the facade were knocked from the walls.
The building was eventually torn down and more than 200 residents were evacuated from the community, many of whom never returned.