THE BRONX — The suspect linked to the death of FDNY Chief Michael Fahy is believed to be the "front man" for a marijuana grow house that blew up Tuesday morning, killing the rising star fire official, sources told DNAinfo New York.
Julio Salcedo, 34, allegedly paid the monthly rent in cash for the second floor apartment at 304 W. 234 in Kingsbridge that was turned into an illegal hydroponic pot farm, sources said.
The grow house exploded Tuesday morning, demolished the three-story building, and hurled chunks of the roof into Fahy, a father of three, who as standing outside.
Investigators believe Salcedo "paid the bills, and was a caretaker for the farm, but he is not the mastermind or the guy who set it up," a law enforcement source said.
"He seems more low-level player," the source said, adding that the NYPD was trying to identify others involved in the pot operation.
"This guy is no El Chapo," said another law enforcement source, referring to the notorious Mexican drug lord.
Investigators also believe the marijuana being grown there was likely not sold in the area, and was distributed in another part of The Bronx or even in another borough.
Salcedo was seen on video running out of the building when firefighters, Con Edison and police responded around 6:30 a.m. to reports of a gas odor.
And he stood around in the street as adjoining buildings were evacuated. But video shows that when the building exploded about an hour later, he took off and vanished in the chaos.
He was captured late Tuesday afternoon in New Jersey, and held on an outstanding warrant for failing to show up in court on a driving without a license charge in November 2014.
Salcedo has a string of minor arrests, mostly for drugs. His most recent arrest was in April in an alleged attack on his girlfriend in The Bronx, records show.Sources told DNAinfo New York that they believe the pot farm illegally tapped into the building's gas lines to steal fuel in order to avoid running up large Con Edison bills that would have attracted attention of the building's owner, or the utility company.
When first responders entered the building to check out the gas odor on Tuesday, they found a 55-gallon fertilizer drum on the second floor, which was sealed with plastic and locked with several padlocks. There were also three more drums in the basement.
They shut off gas to the building and evacuated nearby apartments. Fahy, whose father proceeded him in the FDNY, was in charge of the operation.
He was standing outside the building with several Emergency Services Unit officers when the blast occurred.
Investigators and Con Edison officials were waiting for the Department of Buildings Wednesday to approve the building's stability so they can go back into the demolished building and officially determine what caused the blast.
Fahy's Funeral services will be held Saturday at Annunciation-Our Lady of Fatima Parish, located at 470 Westchester Ave. in Crestwood.