A body found in charred ruins of a Kansas motel room after a shootout that injured three federal agents was that of the robbery suspect they sought to arrest, the FBI said Tuesday.
Orlando Collins, 28, ultimately turned a gun on himself and took his own life after the gunfire exchange Saturday night at Topeka’s Country Club Motel, the FBI said, citing a coroner’s preliminary findings. Toxicology tests on samples taken from Collins are pending.
The city’s fire marshal, Michael Martin, said in a statement “the fire is believed to have started as a result of actions taken by the occupant” – Collins – in a corner of the small room. Martin later told The Associated Press the cramped room, which included a bed and overstuffed chair, was ignited using “a common combustible” he could not readily identify.
“There’s no way we'll be able to determine that,” he said in concluding the probe by the Topeka Fire Department’s investigation’s arm and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The shootout injured two deputy federal marshals and an FBI agent, who the FBI said remained hospitalized Tuesday in good condition.
Authorities intent on arresting Collins came under fire as they closed in on him outside the motel, moments before the fire erupted and quickly consumed the rest of that building.
Collins, who was being sought on a federal robbery warrant and was believed by police to have a penchant for arson during a recent crime spree, was on the state’s most wanted list and considered armed and dangerous.
Topeka police said Collins was suspected of a March 30 armed holdup and of shooting at an occupied home. Less than a week later, Collins was identified as a person of interest in connection with an attempted robbery of a grocery store and a holdup of a convenience store, police said. Unspecified evidence found in a 1996 Audi burning at a car wash linked him to those crimes, police said.
Then last Friday, police said, Collins was identified as sought for questioning for allegedly using a gun to rob a tobacco store and stealing a 2011 Nissan Sentra parked outside. The car later was found ablaze.