“Very difficult to process:” 70-year-old man found dead after arson in duplex near 28th and Becher

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MILWAUKEE -- An investigation is underway after a fatal arson early Monday morning, July 3rd on Milwaukee's south side.

It happened at a duplex near 28th and Becher around 2:30 a.m.

Police say a 70-year-old man was found dead inside the home. The victim has been identified as Robert Piotrowski.

At this time, the death is being treated as a homicide.

Duplex fire near 28th and Becher

The Red Cross is assisting a family of three after the fire. They were able to get out safely.

Meanwhile, those who know Piotrowski said they were shocked to see there was a fire at his home, and devastated to learn he was inside at the time.

Arson near 28th and Becher

"It's very, very difficult, very difficult to process," Melissa Ritchey said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with our neighbor. He was a quiet gentleman who gave us gardening advice and left food on my porch. Very nice. I just pray for his family -- just that their friends and family get some closure -- hoping that whoever did it is caught quickly before they have a chance to do it again."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation -- but we do know it was contained to the lower unit of the duplex.

"I could smell the smoke. I did hear firefighters breaking windows. That's scary when you hear about it happening next to you, especially if it's intentional. That's terrifying. I don't know how to sleep at night," Ritchey said.

Arson near 28th and Becher

MPD’s investigation is ongoing. The State Fire Marshal was out at the scene Monday as well.

Neighbors said they're remaining vigilant.

"We are on alert here all the time in terms of just watching your neighborhood and watching out for our neighbors," a neighbor said.

Duplex fire near 28th and Becher

An autopsy was performed on Piotrowski Monday, but the results are on non-disclosure.

Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.